South Africa will soon have a new range of bank notes celebrating and honouring the county’s first black president Nelson Mandela. On Wednesday this week, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) launched an awareness campaign about the notes, expected to go in to circulation before the end of this year.
All the new notes in South Africa – R200, R100, R50, R20 and R10 – will have an identical portrait of Mandela with the reverse retaining the Big Five animals as they appear on the existing notes. Currently, Botswana and South Africa share a similar denomination structure although in Botswana’s case, only the front of the P50 note honours the founding president of the republic, Sir Seretse Khama.
It is the P10 note that retains the culture of honouring a sitting president while the P20 note bears the portrait of Kgalemang Tumediso Motsepe, the composer of the national anthem. The P100 honours the three chiefs who went to Britain to seek protection in 1891 while the P200 note celebrates the role of women in educating the nation towards development.
The new South African notes on the other hand will be almost identical, differing only in colour and denomination. The SARB announced during the Wednesday awareness campaign that the new notes would retain the same size as those already in circulation and will have raised printing to cater for the visually impaired.
“We are pleased to issue this new series of banknotes which reflects South Africa’s pride as a nation and pays tribute to a much-loved world icon,” SARB governor Gill Marcus said, adding that a similar campaign had already started in other countries on the continent, which use the South African rand. These include Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The banknotes that are already in circulation still remain legal tender and are of equal value to the new banknotes, the SARB said. Mandela’s former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who attended the launch, was grateful for the recognition of Mandela, adding that it could be “the best birthday present he ever received on his 94th birthday.”