(PRETORIA, South Africa) — A day before his birthday, former South African President Nelson Mandela remains in the hospital in serious but stable condition.
The civil rights leader isn’t expected to be released from Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria before he turns 95 on Thursday. He has been at the hospital since June 8 for a recurring lung infection.
Mac Maharaj, the spokesperson for South African President Jacob Zuma, tells ABC News that Mandela has “a strong will to live in him.”
Maharaj, who served alongside Mandela on Robben Island and secretly smuggled out of the prison the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s memoir, Long Walk to Freedom, says Mandela’s “condition is critical but stable, at the same time he is responding to treatment.”
“Whatever happens let’s find a way to celebrate his life,” he says.
And South Africa plans to do just that on Thursday. To commemorate Mandela’s birthday, a campaign known as “Mandela Day” is asking ordinary people to honor Mandela’s legacy by volunteering 67 minutes of their time to charity or service projects. Sixty-seven is the number of years Mandela served his country through public service, politics and prison.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN