Obama holds private meeting with Mandela family

Obama has hailed Madiba as an inspiration to him personally and to many around the world.

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk off Air Force One with their daughters Malia and Sasha at Waterkloof Air Force Base on June 28, 2013.  Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - US President Barack Obama privately met with former President Nelson Mandela's family on Saturday.

Mandela was admitted to hospital exactly three weeks ago for a recurring lung infection. He remains in a critical but stable condition on life support.

Earlier on Saturday, President Jacob Zuma and the US President held a briefing after bilateral talks at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Obama hailed Madiba as an inspiration to many around the world.

"Madiba's moral courage and South Africa's historic transition to a free and democratic nation has been a personal inspiration to me and to the world."

Obama and his family landed at the Waterkloof Air Force base on Friday night. It is his second stop on a three nation African tour.

Zuma said he is pleased to be working with Obama on strengthening trade relations between the two countries.

The President said Obama is visiting Africa at the right time.

"Africa is rising. It is the second fastest growing region after Asia and has become an attractive market for investment."

Both statesmen agreed the United Nations in its current form no longer represents modern international realities and needs reforming.

During the briefing, Obama said this was a complicated issue and would involve much negotiation.

He said America keeps its seat at the table by shouldering international responsibilities.


Meanwhile, a scuffle broke out at the University of Johannesburg's (UJ) Soweto Campus on Saturday afternoon where Obama is addressing African youth.

Police reportedly managed to disperse the crowds.

Various groups have protested against the US President's visit.

The No You Can't Obama Campaign (Nobama), along with students from UJ, South African Students Congress and the Young Communist League were protesting against UJ's "poor and undemocratic" decision to award Obama an honorary doctorate.

Other issues raised include American domestic and foreign policy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, US-Middle East relations, globalisation and global warming.

Richard Mamabolo, one of the organisers of the Nobama campaign, says they are disappointed by Obama's failure to act on his promises.

"When he was campaigning to become the president of the US he was saying, 'Yes we can, yes we can, yes we can', but we have not seen anything happening."