Johannesburg - New South African banknotes will bear the
image of former president Nelson Mandela, President Jacob Zuma announced in
Pretoria on Saturday.
The notes would make South Africans remember their
Zuma told reporters at a press briefing attended by
dignitaries including SA Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus and Finance Minister
Zuma said the gesture was "a befitting tribute" to
Mandela who was a symbol of the country's struggle for freedom, human rights
"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," Zuma said.
The banknotes would make South Africans remember and
appreciate their achievements in order to continue the journey towards a more
prosperous society, Zuma said.
Saturday marks the 22nd anniversary of Mandela's release
Marcus said the new notes would enter circulation later in
She said coins would not be affected at this stage.
The current banknotes, that feature the Big 5 animals, had
been in circulation since 1992.
Marcus said officials consulted widely on the notes,
speaking to a wide range of people including Mandela's former wife Winnie
Gordhan said the new notes would "help South Africa to
remember Mandela" and "institutionalise the memory of where we come
Earlier on Saturday, German international news agency DPA
reported lack of details about the nature of the announcement which briefly
The rand tumbled about 2.5% versus the dollar.
"Traders worried that the central bank of Africa's
largest economy was about to make a drastic policy or personnel change while
markets were closed," DPA said.
However, the Mail and Guardian cited sources suggesting the
announcement would likely be of a celebratory nature and possibly related to
Following reassuring remarks from bank officials, who
indicated that the news would not be about interest rates or resignations, the
rand made a quick rebound.