South Africa's president says anti-apartheid legend Nelson Mandela remains in critical condition, more than two weeks after he was hospitalized with a lung infection.
At a news conference Monday, President Jacob Zuma called Mr. Mandela "the father of democracy," and said the country should accept that he will have health problems as he ages.
“This is the man who fought and sacrificed his life to stay in prison, the longest-serving prisoner in South Africa. He is one of those who has contributed to democracy ideologically, and therefore is the man we all love,” Zuma said.
Zuma visited Mandela at a Pretoria hospital late Sunday. The president said doctors told him they are doing everything they can to treat the 94-year-old Nobel Peace laureate and make him feel comfortable.
The president said he is not in a position to give more information about Mandela's condition, but he asked South Africans to pray for the former leader.
He also told reporters Monday that Mandela's health will not affect an upcoming visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.
A White House spokesman would not speculate Monday about how Mr. Mandela's health might impact Obama's visit to South Africa. Jay Carney said only that Obama "continues to look forward to the trip" and said the U.S. president sees Mandela as one of his heroes.
"The president, obviously, has long seen Nelson Mandela as one of his personal heroes and I think he is not alone in that -- in this country or around the world. And we all, again, express our thoughts and prayers, or note that our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family at this time," Carney said.
Family members of Mandela continued to visit him in the hospital Monday.
Mandela's daughter Makaziwe told CNN Monday that the family is taking each day as it comes and enjoying as much time as they can with him. She said she believes that her father is at peace.
On Sunday, the South African president's office said the ambulance that took Mr. Mandela to the hospital on June 8 developed engine problems, delaying his arrival at the facility.
The office said Mandela had expert medical care from a team of doctors and specialists traveling with the ambulance convoy, and that "all care was taken to ensure that his medical condition was not compromised."
The president's office also said "there is no truth" to a report that Mandela had suffered cardiac arrest.
The former South African president has been in frail health in recent years. This is his fourth hospitalization for lung problems since December..
Nelson Mandela smiles for photographers at his home in Johannesburg September 22, 2005.
Nelson Mandela and his then wife, Winnie, salute well-wishers as he leaves Victor Verster prison on Feb. 11, 1990.
This undated photograph shows Nelson Mandela and his former wife, Winnie.
South African State President Frederik Willem de Klerk and Deputy President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela prior to talks, Cape Town, May 2, 1990.
Nelson Mandela, is seen as he gives the black power salute to 120,000 ANC supporters in Soweto's Soccer City stadium, Feb. 13, 1990.
Then-African National Congress President Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd in Galeshewe Stadium near Kimberley, South Africa, Feb. 25, 1994.
Nelson Mandela and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II ride in a carriage outside Buckingham Palace on the first day of a state visit to Britain, July 9, 1996.
President Nelson Mandela and Britain's Prince Charles shake hands alongside members of the Spice Girls, Nov. 1, 1997.
Former U.S President Bill Clinton and former South African President Nelson Mandela speak during a Gala night in Westminster Hall, London, July 2, 2003.
Oscar winning South African actress Charlize Theron weeps at her meeting with former South African President Nelson Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton, March 11,2004.
Nelson Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, wave to the audience during a Live 8 concert in Johannesburg, July 2, 2005.
Nelson Mandela jokes with youngsters as they celebrate his 89th birthday at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Johannesburg, July 24, 2007.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela, center, followed by his grandson Mandla Mandela, rear right, arrives at the ceremony in Mvezo, South Africa, April 16, 2007.
Nelson Mandela waves to the media as he arrives outside 10 Downing Street, London, August 28, 2007.
Nelson Mandela waves as he arrives to attend the 2010 World Cup football final Netherlands vs. Spain on July 11, 2010 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.
Nelson Mandela poses for a photograph after receiving a torch to celebrate the African National Congress' centenary in his home village Qunu, May 30, 2012.