Nelson Mandela has made "dramatic" progress, his daughter said on the eve of his 95th birthday.
Zindzi Mandela told Sky TV that her father could be going home soon.
She said he is watching television with headphones in his bed in a Pretoria hospital, smiles at family and raises his hand.
The latest description by Zindzi Mandela – a daughter by his second wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela – is a significant improvement from family court documents that said he was on life support and near death.
Mandela has been in a Pretoria hospital since June 8 and officials have said his condition is critical but stable.
He has been receiving treatment for more than five weeks for a recurring lung infection, sparking an outpouring of support in South Africa and globally.
Former president Thabo Mbeki said at the weekend he expected Mandela to be discharged soon to recuperate at home.
The anti-apartheid hero spent 27 years in prison before becoming South Africa's first black president in 1994.