South African President Jacob Zuma says that Nelson Mandela's condition has improved, but still remains critical.
"He is much better today than he was when I saw him last night," Mr Zuma said after speaking to the 94-year-old's medical team.
South Africa's first black president - an icon of the anti-apartheid struggle - has been in hospital in Pretoria since 8 June with a lung infection.
Mr Zuma cancelled a visit to Mozambique to visit Mr Mandela in hospital.
Meanwhile Mr Mandela's daughter Makaziwe said he was "still there" and responding to touch.
Emotional crowds have gathered outside the hospital, adding messages of support for Mr Mandela, known by his clan name Madiba.
Children released 94 balloons - one for every year of the ex-president's life - into the air in his honour.
Correspondents say South Africans now seem resigned to the prospect of his death.
"We don't like seeing Mandela going through so much pain, he has had a tough time in his life and he's gone through a lot of struggle. I think this struggle should get over sooner," Khulile Mlondleni told Reuters news agency.
"We are all going to feel bad when he passes [away], but at the same time we will be celebrating his life. He has done so many great things for this country," said 25-year-old John Ndlovu, quoted by the agency.