Mandela's image to appear on South African banknotes

South Africa will launch bank notes bearing the image of its first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela, President Jacob Zuma announced today on the 22nd anniversary of the anti-apartheid icon's release from prison.

"On behalf of Government and the people of South Africa, it is my honour and pleasure to announce that the new South African bank notes will bear the image of President Mandela, the President of a free, democratic South Africa," Zuma said at the Reserve Bank headquarters.

He said that Mandela's release in 1990 after 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid "marked the beginning of a new era of hope for our country and the world."

Zuma described Mandela as an "outstanding leader and patriot" that represented a group of exceptional men and women who demonstrated their love for South Africa in a time of repression.

Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus said Mandela, who does not make any public appearances since his retirement to his home village in Qunu, had been informed and was "delighted" about it.

South African bank notes are upgraded every seven to 10 years in a bid to fight counterfeiting.

The new note series in R10; R20; R50; R100 and R200 denominations, each in a different colour, will feature an engraving of the former President with the reverse side continuing to show the country's big five animals.

Marcus said the Reserve Bank hoped to have the new currency in circulation before the end of the year, with a public education programme that will allow for the current notes to be legal tender until they phased out.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the introduction of the notes marked the beginning of a campaign to ensure a new generation remembered Mandela efforts which have made him a world icon.

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