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Striking the right note for all of us

by Gill Marcus | Oct 22, 2012
New banknotes reflect national pride

A country’s currency is a tangible reflection of cultural heritage and pride, second only to the national flag.

It makes a physical and emotional connection with each of us, as citizens, every day of our lives as we go about our business at home or at work, making our daily transactions.

As people do business with our currency, it makes tangible the country’s standing in the international business community and on the world economic stage.

For many, it is their first encounter with our national brand. It is, therefore, both appropriate and highly relevant that the SA Reserve Bank is issuing a new series of banknotes that personify South Africa’s pride as a nation and, at the same time, pays tribute to a much-loved global icon and the country’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Over the years, the design of South Africa’s banknotes has been a reflection of the country’s national heritage and unique culture. This new series of banknotes follows in that well-established tradition.

In what will surely become known as the “Mandela banknote series”, the new notes feature the image of former president Nelson Mandela on the front of the notes and, on the reverse side, images of South Africa’s Big Five – rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard – will still be portrayed.

Other design features on the new banknotes include South Africa’s official coat of arms, the 11 official languages and other uniquely South African cultural symbols such as our San rock art.

The new banknotes will be in circulation by the end of the year in R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200 denominations, and will have the same sizes and colours as the existing notes, which will remain legal tender and have equal value to the new notes.

The choice of Mandela as the defining image on the new series recognises his position as a global symbol of real democratic change and a champion of equality, human rights, and a free and fair democratic society.

At a time in the world when many countriesare experiencing a very challenging economic environment, he stands as a beacon of freedom and democracy.

Earlier this year, CNN launched a social media campaign to mark Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday and asked people from across the world to define what he meant to them.

Thousands emailed and tweeted their responses, with the most-often mentioned Mandela attributes being “leader”, “freedom”, “inspiration”, “hero” and “courage”, with many commenting that other global leaders should try to emulate his example.
His image on the new banknotes personifies the spirit of national heritage and positive change, and provides an inspiration for others to follow.

When the World Economic Forum launched its annual Global Competitiveness Survey, South Africa was ranked first among Brazil, Russia, India and China (the Brics nations) and third out of 144 countries overall for its financial-market development.

This high level of confidence shown in our financial market development comes at a time when global market confidence overall 
is slow to return.

The need, therefore, to ensure our country’s currency remains world-class in terms of its security features is paramount, particularly in the fight against widespread fraud, counterfeiting and the illicit currency trade.

As a result, the new banknotes incorporate state-of-the-art security, technical and design features such as intaglio printing, watermarks, unique numbering, security threads, fluorescent ink, microlettering and colour-changing ink.

South Africa has recognised that the demand to incorporate cutting-edge security features, together with beautiful design and images that resonate with users, is crucial; and has endeavoured to achieve both objectives with the new series of banknotes.

A banknote is a key instrument in our economy, and critical to our future economic development and reputation in the national 
and global marketplace.

In both South Africa and neighbouring countries, millions of people still use cash as the primary way to interact with the economy.
It is the responsibility of the SA Reserve Bank to protect the integrity and value of our currency, and we are proud to present the newly designed banknote to all South Africans.

The launch of our new notes presents a unique opportunity to not only reflect on how far we have come as a nation, but also 
to look to the future as we shape our role in the domestic, regional and global marketplace.