02/11/2012 09:35 EST | Updated 04/12/2012 05:12 EDT

South Africa to release new bank notes bearing Nelson Mandela's image, president says

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's president says new bank notes will bear Nelson Mandela's image.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement at the central bank offices Saturday, on the 22nd anniversary of Mandela's release after 27 years in prison for fighting apartheid. Zuma says Mandela's release "marked the beginning of a new era of hope."

Zuma did not say when the new notes would appear.

Local media had reported that speculation about Saturday's government press conference put pressure on the rand, but it revived following reassurance from bank officials that the announcement would not be about interest rates or central bank staff changes.

Mandela, the 93-year-old Nobel Peace prize winner, became South Africa's first black president in 1994. Known affectionately by his clan name, Madiba, he has retired from public life.