Showing images of a frail former president Nelson Mandela was the right thing to do as the world needed to see him, the ANC said on Tuesday.
"Those who are complaining that Madiba's latest images was a publicity stunt by the [African National Congress] are eating sour grapes.... We are happy we shared Madiba with the world, even in his frail state," said spokesman Jackson Mthembu.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and South Africa's first post-apartheid president was shown sitting impassively with a blanket over his legs in footage of a visit by ANC top leaders to his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Monday.
In the exclusive SABC broadcast, he looked blankly at the camera while those around him chatted and laughed.
With him were President Jacob Zuma, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, chairwoman Baleka Mbete and his medical team.
Zuma told the state broadcaster Mandela was "in good shape" and "up and about" after his release from hospital earlier this month after receiving treatment for recurring lung problems.
"Our people have not seen Madiba in many years. Now they have seen him open and close his eyes.... We are happy with his health. He is no longer a young man," said Mthembu.
He said the ANC had invited only the SABC to avoid "making Mandela uncomfortable".
"We did not invite the whole crew, because we care about Madiba. The SABC even distributed the images to other broadcasters. This was in the public interest."
Mthembu said there would have been an "avalanche of criticism" towards the ANC if it had not shown Mandela's images.
The footage has been widely criticised, by among others social media users, with The Associated Press reporting that it would likely cause more concern for the many South Africans who revere Mandela.