The Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube announced the introduction of a new $100 banknote. The minister announced this through Statutory Instrument 68A of 2022.
In early 2021 we got reports that there would be $100 and $200 notes following close behind the $50 note. At the time the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe denied those reports and assured us there were no plans to bring those higher denomination notes.
At the time we noted that if inflation remained untamed, those notes would become a necessity. In any case we knew they had talks about the notes but did not want to spook the public. Which would have led to even more inflation as trust in the Zimdollar would have nosedived further.
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We were forced to celebrate a 60% year on year inflation rate to close out 2021. 60% is very high but after we had witnessed in the earlier months it felt like a win. All this inflation meant our notes were only as good as coins. Today in April 2022, the highest denomination note, the $50, is worth only 34 US cents using the official RBZ rate and a paltry 17 cents on the black market.
The new $100 is therefore a necessity but it’s a little late. It is worth 69 US cents (or 34 cents on the black market. That doesn’t make much sense. How can the highest denomination banknote in a country be worth 69 cents. You need at least two of the highest denomination banknotes in Zimbabwe to buy a loaf of bread. That’s ridiculous.
I understand that the Zimbabwean situation is unlike any other. The fickle Zimbabweans would not receive an appropriate denomination note. If we are to have a note equal to the US$100 note, our note would have $14,500 (or $29,500) on its face. If the RBZ introduced such a note, inflation would spike till it was worth 69 US cents.
The best we can handle right now is a ZWL$100 note. It means cash transactions remain a challenge but it’s a price we have to pay for our inflation to maintain its terrible but established run. $10,000 notes at this time would surely break the system.
The design of the $100 note
(a) on the front side, the dominant feature shall be the logo of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (three balancing rocks), with the visually impaired recognition feature to the left, a latent image showing the denomination, windowed security strip inscribed “RBZ” with a colour shift from red to green, watermark with the highlighted inscription “RBZ” and see-through of Zimbabwe Bird looking to the left in perfect register, as secondary features; and
(b) on the back side, there shall be an impression of the Great Zimbabwe Monument and the Baobab Tree, a gold-coloured iridescent band showing the denomination of the note and see-through of the Zimbabwe Bird looking to the right.