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South Africa's ANC Defends Mandela Video

Former President Nelson Mandela smiles as he formally announces his retirement from public life in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 1, 2004.
South African television has aired video of a frail Nelson Mandela - his first appearance since he was hospitalized again last month.

The video shows an unsmiling Mandela sitting in a chair, a blanket covering his legs, while his doctors and politicians - including President Jacob Zuma - chat and pose for pictures behind him.

Zuma told broadcaster SABC that Mandela is "up and about." But many South Africans, speaking on social media sites, said they thought the 94-year-old former president looked unwell and accused the ruling ANC party of exploiting him.

The party later said that the video of Mandela - an icon of the anti-apartheid movement - was "in the public interest" and was not for political opportunism.

The ANC also said it stands by its statements that Mandela, while frail, is in good health and in good spirits.

The former president has been hospitalized three times since December suffering from ailments that include a recurring lung infection.

His most recent hospital stay beginning March 27 lasted nine days, as doctors treated him for the lung infection and pneumonia.

Mandela spent 27 years in prison for fighting white minority rule in South Africa. He became the country's first black president in 1994, and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping bring an end to apartheid.