JOHANNESBURG – South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela has recovered from his recent lung infection and a surgical procedure to remove gallstones, according to an announcement Sunday by President Jacob Zuma.
Doctors say that Mandela, 94, has made "steady progress and that clinically, he continues to improve," according to a statement issued by Zuma's office. Mandela was hospitalized for nearly three weeks in December before going home on Dec. 26.
Zuma's statement said Mandela "continues to receive high care" at his home in the Houghton suburb of Johannesburg and that "his daily routine is being gradually re-established."
Zuma congratulated Mandela on his recovery and said the anti-apartheid icon has "the love and support of all South Africans."
Mandela has been reading newspapers, sitting up in bed and receiving visitors, according to reports in the South African media.
The news that Mandela has recovered from the recurring lung infection and the minor surgery will reassure many in South Africa concerned about the health of the aged leader, who has become increasingly frail over the years.
A year ago, Mandela was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital for what officials initially described as tests but what turned out to be an acute respiratory infection. He was discharged days later. He also had surgery for an enlarged prostate gland in 1985.
Under South Africa's white-minority apartheid regime, Mandela served 27 years in prison, where he contracted tuberculosis, before being released in 1990. He later became the nation's first democratically elected president in 1994 under the banner of the African National Congress. He served one five-year term before retiring.
He last made a public appearance on a major stage when South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament.