, JOHANNESBURG, Dec 31 – President Jacob Zuma wrapped up the year urging South Africa on Monday to continue praying for the frail Nelson Mandela who is recovering from a lung infection and surgery to extract gallstones.
“We should continue to keep the Mandela family in our thoughts and prayers until Tata (father) has fully recovered,” Zuma said in a year-end message.
Zuma did not give an update on the health of the 94-year old revered statesman, who on Boxing Day was discharged from hospital.
Mandela had spent nearly three weeks in a Pretoria hospital for treatment of a recurrent lung infection and removal of gallstones.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told AFP on Monday there was nothing new to report on the country’s anti-apartheid struggle hero.
Acknowledging that 2012 was a “very challenging year”, Zuma raised concern about violence and the huge income disparities still being experienced in Africa’s wealthiest nation 18 years after the end of apartheid.
“We also have to build a society in the short term, where problems can be anticipated and resolved peacefully without a tragic outbreak of violence as … happened in Marikana,” he said.
In chilling scenes that were reminiscent of apartheid brutality, South African police shot dead 34 mine workers within minutes on August 16 at Lonmin platinum mine in the northwestern mining town of Marikana during a wildcat strike over wages.
The dispute snowballed into a wave of strikes across the key platinum and gold mining sectors in the country.
A census conducted in 2011 showed an improvement in some basic aspects of life for black South Africans, including salaries and education levels.
But Zuma said “at the same time, the census indicated deep income disparities.”
“For example, it revealed that the income of a white household is six times that of an African household.”