(Updates with comment by Zuma in third paragraph, Marcus in last.
Feb. 11 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said new banknotes in the country will bear the image of former president Nelson Mandela.
Zuma made the announcement in Pretoria today on the 22nd anniversary of the release from prison of the Nobel Laureate who led the country out of apartheid to become its first black president in 1994.
“It is a befitting tribute to the man who became a symbol of his country’s struggle for human rights and democracy,” Zuma said.
Mandela, 93, spent 27 years in prison for plotting the overthrow of segregationist rule and served as president before stepping down in 1999 after one five-year term. He is now retired from public life after campaigning for children’s rights, global peace and greater access to treatment for AIDS sufferers. South Africa’s Constitution allows for no more than two presidential terms.
Mandela’s image will be on all banknotes, replacing pictures of the so-called big five African animals -- the rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard.
South Africa’s rand extended declines by almost 1 percentage point to a low of 7.7847 to the dollar yesterday after the central bank announced on its website it would hold a press conference with Zuma, central bank Governor Gill Marcus and Pravin Gordhan to make an announcement of “national importance,” without giving details. The currency traded at 7.7493 as of midnight local time.
Marcus said she regretted the market speculation about the announcement.
--Editors: Gordon Bell, Antony Sguazzin
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