PRETORIA, July 13 (ANA) - More than 400 million banknotes and coins bearing the face of South Africa's first president in the era of democracy, the late Nelson Mandela, are being released to commemorate his centenary.
The South African Reserve Bank on Friday said the first batch of these banknotes and coins had been released and more would be released for the next three months.
Speaking at the launch of the commemorative banknotes and coins at Freedom Park, South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) Governor Lesetja Kganyago said: "Nelson Mandela's light has touched all of us. South Africans from all walks of life, rural and urban. What could be more fitting than to commemorate his life through an instrument that we all use every day?
"Utata represents the best version of ourselves as South Africans and there is no more appropriate an occasion than his birthday centenary to honour all that he represents with these commemorative banknotes and the five rand circulation coin."
Among the guests were Ndileka Mandela and reserve bank governors from Botswana and Lesotho.
"There is such a rich history to the story of Nelson Mandela, as told in his own words in his best selling book 'Long Walk to Freedom', that the SARB has had to use our full range of bank notes as well as a commemorative five rand circulation coin," said Kganyago.
"The banknotes highlight President Mandela's historical journey, from the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape to Soweto, to Howick, to Robben Island, and to the Union Buildings."
Mandela, who was born in the Eastern Cape, moved to Johannesburg where his involvement in politics eventually attracted the interest of the apartheid regime and he ended up living the life of a fugitive. Mandela was arrested in Howick in KwaZulu-Natal and later served time on Robben Island before he became state president.
The SARB governor said the use of cash in South Africa remained high despite the advent of digital transactions, mobile money, and cryptocurrencies. "The value of cash in circulation amounts to just over R140 billion," said the SARB governor, adding that the demand was growing.
Kganyago also revealed that over the years security features on South Africa's banknotes had become advanced and innovative, resulting in a decline in counterfeits.
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said: "Just like Madiba was, banknotes are a country's ambassadors, showcasing its culture to the rest of the world."
The SARB also released an app, which has information on Mandela's life and the security features on the currency, to coincide with the launch of the commemorative banknotes and coins.
- African News Agency (ANA); Edited by Lindiz van Zilla