MASERU — When you go shopping early next year, you are likely to be holding new, crispy banknotes distinctly different from the maloti notes Lesotho has been using since 1979.
The Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) on Friday launched a new set of currency notes in a move the bank said was aimed at fighting the spread of counterfeit notes.
The bank said the new notes, which are expected to hit the streets sometime early next year, will replace all notes that are currently in circulation.
The CBL is yet to decide when the current notes will cease being legal tender.
The new notes were launched as the central bank marked its 30th anniversary.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, government ministers and high-ranking officials from central banks from the Southern African Development Community region attended the launch at Lehakoe Recreational Centre.
CBL governor Moeketsi Senaoana said criminals were targeting the local currency which could be easily changed into the South African rand.
He said this had forced the central bank to improve the security features on the local currency to make it difficult for counterfeiters.
Senaoana said the bank had installed state-of-the-art security features on the new set of notes.
“A watermark that cuts down on the right-hand side of the note is clearly visible when the note is held into the light,” he said.
The new banknotes feature three royal family members — the current king, His Majesty Letsie III is in the middle, his father King Moshoeshoe II is on the left, with the founder of the Basotho nation, King Moshoeshoe I, on the right.
The famous Basotho hat, the mokorotlo, is also visible on the new notes as well as the Lesotho coat of arms.
The new notes all have similar identical features.
“The royal family featured in almost all the suggestions (that we received) and we believe the final selection represents the Basotho heritage,” Senaoana said.
Speaking at the launch, Mosisili paid tribute to the central bank’s role over the past 30 years.
The prime minister said the central bank had acted as an able adviser to the government and had served the nation well over the years.
Mosisili said the bank had introduced several features in the past that were aimed at developing Lesotho’s economy.
He cited the introduction of the national payment settlement system and treasury bonds.
“The bank should continue to review and upgrade the national payment settlement system,” Mosisili said.
The national payment system is a new electronic system introduced by the government to process large payments.
It replaced the cash and cheque modes of payment which relied on manual labour to process payments to government clients.