Zim issues new largest-value bank note, featuring 19th century heroine

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Zimbabwe's new banknotes come at a time Zimbabwe has just revised its year-end inflation targets to 25% from the previous 10%.
Zimbabwe's new banknotes come at a time Zimbabwe has just revised its year-end inflation targets to 25% from the previous 10%.
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Zimbabwe will on Wednesday introduce into circulation its new highest-denomination banknote, which features a 19th-century anti-colonialist heroine who was hanged for leading a rebellion against white occupation.

The new Z$50 banknote, which features liberation war hero Mbuya Nehanda, will becomes the highest denomination, taking over from the Z$20 banknote.

The new Zimbabwean bank note. Source: Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe

A towering bronze statute of Nehanda was unveiled in the centre of Harare in May this year. She was a spiritual leader in Zimbabwe, who led a revolt against the colonisation of Zimbabwe in the 19th century. British officers hanged her in 1898.

Zimbabwe has $2, $5, $10 and $20 notes in circulation, but due to high levels of inflation, transacting using these notes has become cumbersome, with huge wads of cash now required to complete small transactions.

The new Z$50 note is the equivalent of roughly R4, and two of the new notes are needed to buy one loaf of bread.

As at 25 June 2021, Zimbabwe had a total of Z$3.8 billion worth of banknotes in circulation, accounting for just 1.3% of total bank deposits.

International benchmarks require that an economy must have between 10% and 15% cash in circulation against total deposits according to central bank governor John Mangudya.

In 2019, Mangudya promised to improve the ratio to 10%, but this has not materialised amid fears that more banknotes will fuel inflation.

Mangudya has since vowed to drip-feed the market with new notes in an effort to stem inflation.

The new notes come at a time Zimbabwe has just revised its year-end inflation targets to 25% from the previous 10%.

At the last count in June 2021, the inflation rate in Zimbabwe stood at 106%, down from 161% in May 2021. Inflation peaked at 837% in July 2020.

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