BY CEDRIC SWANKA
Batswana still carrying old Pula and Thebe coins can no longer use them to buy goods – but it’s not too late to swap them for new coins.
The old coins ceased to be legal tender in 2014. This means Batswana could no longer use them to make purchases in shops or any legal purchase in the streets including at the informal markets.
Head of communications and information services at Bank of Botswana – Dr. Seamogano Mosanako says the central bank has since embarked on a two months country wide campaign to ensure the public are in possession of the “in-use” coins as compared to the demonetised ones.
The legislation that governs the usage of currency in the country, the Bank of Botswana ACT, gives the central bank the power to recall currency at any given time.
While the process to recall the old coins was completed some few years ago, the central bank has once again made an opening for the return of the old set of coins.
The bank says the reopening of the exchange of old coins for new ones was necessitated by the realisation that in some parts of the country, particularly in remote areas, members of the public and businesses still hold significant quantities of old coin and are experiencing difficulties in exchanging them.
Botswana’s currency has always included banknotes and a number of coins. At inception in 1976, the family of coins comprised five denominations: that is, 50 thebe, 25 thebe, 10 thebe, 5 thebe and 1 thebe. Subsequently, as the cost of living increased, it became necessary to change the composition of the coin denominations. The two lowest denominations, 1 thebe and 2 thebe, were demonetised in 1991 and 1998, respectively, and, as these coins became redundant, there was a need to introduce higher denominations which led to a coinage of the P1, P2 and P5 notes in the 1990s.
This week, Dr. Mosanako said that the Bank is withdrawing coins previously used as legal tender, following the introduction of a new family of coin in 2014.
“The exchange of demonetised coin involves members of the public swapping demonetised coin with circulating coin for equal value.
Dr Mosanako said the collection is largely done through the usual currency circulation methods, which involve the use of commercial banks, post offices through Botswana Post and Bank of Botswana.
“As such, there are no extra costs associated with this activity, as it is within the normal operations of the Bank”.