By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – The Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) has introduced a one of a kind novel M200 bank note, in celebration of King Letsie III’s 60th birthday.

The limited edition Bank notes which have a depiction of the monarch, and a background of a beautiful mountain in his native Matsieng homestead on the front, also commemorates the 200 years of Basotho’s existence.

The notes were legally adopted on Monday the 17July, the day of the King’s birthday, and will see the CBL introduce 5 million pieces to be circulated from August this year.

 Besides the distinctive differences, which include a body of text indicating the occasion’s commemorative date, and an artistic Basotho hat rolling bar, emblazoned with the number 60, (bottom right from the portrait), the note retains the exact colour scheme of the alternative M200 Bank note currently in circulation, and still has a 200 see through feature reflecting the nation’s founding King, King Moshoeshoe I, when tilted into direct sunlight.

Speaking at the official launch held recently in Maseru, The Governor of the Central bank of Lesotho, Dr Maluke Letete, said this indeed was a special day in the history of Basotho. Adding that it was the first time in the history of the CBL’s nearly 45 years of existence that they would be launching a commemorative bank note, and moreover one for His Majesty King Letsie III, in the occasion of his 60th  Diamond Jubilee.

In retrospect he said in the past the CBL had only produced coins to commemorate special occasions, especially for the Heads of State, namely His Majesty King Letsie III and his father the Late King Moshoeshoe II.

“Ladies and gentlemen today is a truly special day, there has indeed never been a day like this one. I’m truly gratified, to be standing here today, as we launch this first of its kind Bank note to celebrate our monarchs 60th birthday. The CBL retains the sore right to issue, manage and redeem the currency for both coins and banknotes in accordance with section 6 b of the CBL Act of 2000,” he said.

He elaborated that the CBL had issued varying numbers of coins and banknotes since its establishment in 1978, and so as a result was excited with this recent addition, which would be circulated around the country. He said the Banknote signified Basotho’s unity and peace.

Looking back, in 1985 the CBL issued a one Loti silver coin to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King Moshoeshoe II, and a M250 gold coin and M10 silver coin for His Majesty King Letsie III in 1997 to mark the occasion for his coronation as King of Lesotho.

More recently in 2013, CBL issued a M500 coin for His Majesty King Letsie III on his birthday. Most importantly these coins featured the portraits of the above-mentioned Kings in order to celebrate special events in the history of the culture of Basotho.

The cumulative coins were however not intended for general circulation, but were often presented as gifts to signatories and special guests that came to Lesotho.

Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane, thanked the Governor for this gift which the CBL had presented to the nation, saying she was proud of CBL and the values that still resonate within it to make this banknote in commemoration of the special occasion of His Majesty’s 60th Jubilee.

 She requested the Governor to allow the banknote circulate for a much longer time because it was their first commemorative banknotes as they usually produced coins with the understanding that they were durable and lasted longer.

“I would like to take this opportunity to laud the CBL and the Governor for the exceptional work which they have done, I’m truly humbled because this institution made me who I am today, so I get so happy when they do great things such like they have done today all in the spirit of commemorating His Majesty’s ever symbolic 60th Birthday,” she said.

“What makes me happy about this iconic bank notes isn’t only its novel character, but also because it still retains the image of the founder of the nation, King Moshoeshoe I, when raised towards light. I urge the Governor to circulate the Bank notes for a much longer time so future generations are able to see it.”

On the same token, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Law & Parliamentary affairs, Justice Nthomeng Majara said she received a message conveying the King’s delight in the issuance of the new Bank notes, she urged Basotho to use this milestone to introspect – reflecting back to the values which founded this nation.