South African bank notes to bear Mandela’s image

PRETORIA (Reuters) - Nelson Mandela's face will feature on all South Africa's bank notes to honor the former president's role in fighting apartheid, President Jacob Zuma said Saturday.

The announcement coincides with the 22nd anniversary of Mandela's release from prison after serving 27 years in jail for his opposition to white-only rule.

"It is a befitting tribute to a man who became a symbol of this country's struggle for freedom, human rights and democracy," Zuma said.

"With this humble gesture, we are expressing our deep gratitude as the South African people, to a life spent in service of the people of this country and in the cause of humanity worldwide."

News Friday that Zuma would make an announcement of "national importance," along with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus, spooked the market and sent the rand tumbling as much as 2.6 percent on the day. Marcus apologized for the confusion.

The new notes featuring Mandela, who became South Africa's first democratically elected president in 1994, will be in circulation by the end of the year.

The frail 93-year-old has not been seen in public since the closing ceremony of the Soccer World Cup in Johannesburg in July 2010.

(Reporting by Xola Potelwa; Editing by Ben Harding)


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