South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said on Monday that Nelson Mandela remained in critical condition in a hospital in Pretoria with lung infection.
Mandela is 94 years old.
“Doctors are doing everything possible to ensure his well-being and comfort,” Zuma told the media in Johannesburg, but gave few details.
South Africans and admirers around the world awaited word on the condition of Mandela, the iconic leader who played a towering role in ending apartheid.
With Mandela leading the way, the country transitioned from white minority rule to multiracial democracy in 1994, earning him a Nobel Peace Prize.
Zuma said that he and Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of the governing African National Congress, visited Mandela late on Sunday night.
“Given the hour, he was already asleep. We were there, looked at him, saw him and then we had a bit of a discussion with the doctors and his wife,” Zuma said.
“I don’t think I’m in a position to give further details. I’m not a doctor.”
Doctors told Zuma on Sunday evening that Mandela’s health “had become critical over the past 24 hours,” according to an earlier statement from the presidency.
Zuma said that doctors were doing “everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable.”
Madiba is Mr. Mandela’s clan name.
The language used in the statement was the strongest yet concerning the health of Nelson Mandela, whose progress has been a matter of international concern.
On Saturday, the president, seeking to play down news reports about Mandela’s deteriorating health, described his condition as “serious but stable.”
Mandela, who was freed by the apartheid government in 1990 after 27 years of imprisonment, became South Africa’s first black president in 1994.
He retired from public life a decade later, in 2004, and has not been seen in public since the World Cup soccer final in South Africa in July 2010.