The ruling ANC has defended the South Africa Broadcasting Co-operation (SABC) showing images of frail former president Nelson Mandela saying doing so was the right thing to do as the world needed to see him.
"Those who are complaining that Madiba's latest image was a publicity stunt by the African National Congress are eating sour grapes.... We are happy we shared Madiba with the world, even in his frail state," said spokesperson Jackson Mthembu told SABC
In the exclusive SABC broadcast, Mandela looked blankly at the camera while those around him chatted and laughed. With him were President Jacob Zuma, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson Baleka Mbete and his medical team.
However the footage was widely criticised, especially in social media circles by most of South Africans.
Some of the negative tweets responding to the broadcast included one saying, "After everything the man has done for us this is how we treat him. Like an animal at the zoo. Shame on us. #mandela."
Zuma told the public broadcast that Mandela was "in good shape" and "up and about" after his release from hospital earlier this month after receiving treatment for recurring lung problems.
"Our people have not seen Madiba in many years. Now they have seen him open and close his eyes.... We are happy with his health. He is no longer a young man," said Mthembu.
Mthembu further said that the ANC had invited only the SABC to avoid "making Mandela uncomfortable".
"We did not invite the whole crew, because we care about Madiba. The SABC even distributed the images to other broadcasters. This was in the public interest."
"Our people have not seen Madiba in many years. Now they have seen him open and close his eyes.... We are happy with his health. He is no longer a young man," Added Mthembu.