Johannesburg: Nelson Mandela's health has improved but his condition remained serious, South African President Jacob Zuma said.

Zuma and African National Congress Treasurer-General Dr Zweli Mkhize visited Mandela at the Mediclinic Heart Hospital in Pretoria on Thursday evening.

"Madiba's health continues to improve but his condition remains serious. We continue to appeal to people to keep Madiba in their prayers and wish him a speedy recovery," Zuma said using Mandela's clan name.

Mandela's daughter, Zinzi Mandela, also visited the ailing statesman on Thursday. About 12 bishops on Friday held a prayer vigil outside the hospital. "Thank you (God) for the speedy recovery of Dr Nelson Mandela," Bishop Abraham Sibiya of the Christ Centred Church Episcopal Soshanguve said.

Meanwhile, schoolchildren in Mandela's home village of Qunu sang songs in his honour.

Mandela, who turns 95 next month, has not been seen in public since the World Cup final in South Africa in July 2010. Mandela, one of the world's tallest statesmen, led the movement to replace the apartheid regime of South Africa with a multi-racial democracy.

Mandela served as South Africa's first black President from 1994 to 1999. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.


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