Gradually, Then Suddenly
ZIM100a, 2017, US$5; Later RTGS$5

Slot Comment:

Bond Note / RTGS dollar AD Prefix

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Note Details


Set Details

Note Description: Zimbabwe, Reserve Bank
5 Dollars
Grade: 66 EPQ
Country: Zimbabwe
Note Number: ZIM100a
- Wmk: Zimbabwe Bird & RBZ
- Bond
Comment: Exceptional Paper Quality
Certification #: 8063418-097
Owner: Revenant
Set Category: World
Set Name: Gradually, Then Suddenly
Slot Name: ZIM100a, 2017, US$5; Later RTGS$5
Research: Currently not available

Owner's Description

The bond notes would be the last attempt by the government of President Robert Mugabe, who “resigned” in 2017, after holding the office since 1987. On Nov 15, 2017, after more than a year of protests, he was placed under house arrest by the national army in a coup d’etat. Four days later his party, ZANU-PF, sacked him as party leader and appointed the Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in his place. He resigned on Nov 21, two days later, before impeachment proceedings could be concluded.

Less than 2 years later, on Sep 6 2019, Rober Mugabe died in Singapore, where he’d been receiving medical treatment off and on since 2018. His body returned to Zimbabwe on Sep 11, 2019. One thousand people had gathered at the airport to hear a speech by President Mnanngagwa, but it is reported that no supporters had gathered along the procession route to his home and only 500 mourners gathered at his birthplace in Zvimba. It was announced on Sep 13 that his burial would be delayed 30 days (from the planned Sep 16) and that he’d be laid to rest in the Heroes Acre Cemetary at the request of the government – the family initially refused this plan, planning to barry him in Zvimba. On Sep 26th, it was stated that he would be buried in Kulama (considered his hometown) “to respect the wishes of families of deceased heroes” - suggesting that some people were not thrilled by the idea of him being laid to rest in a place of honor. He was laid to rest on Sep 28, 2019 – the great hero of the war for independence and black majority control of the country, with his legacy in ruins.

The quote that gave my Zimbabwe set its name, “gradually, then suddenly,” comes from The Sun Also Rises.” But the quote was also adopted by the 2001 film, “Prozac Nation,” where the protagonist uses it to describe how you fall into depression, “gradually, then suddenly.” At the end of the film she says, “How do you get out of depression? The same way you got in, ‘gradually, then suddenly.” Again, I feel like there are parallels to what you see in Zimbabwe and this economic depression. Coming out of and recovering from the damage that has been done to the economy and restoring a stable national currency is going to be a slow process that takes a long time. However, if the RBZ does their job right, they might one day achieve a tipping point at which the public begins to seriously accept and adopt the currency again, reforms are implemented, and the national economy can really begin to surge and recover again. We’ll see if that happens and how long it takes if it does.

The bond notes were radically different than the preceding third, and fourth, dollar series and seem more like what you might expect from a modern redesign on the first dollars of the 1980s. More artistry seems to have gone into their design. They use intricate patterns and textures in the artwork. The Chiremba rocks remain on the front of the notes, as always.

The $5 bond note uses an image of giraffes and I do not think giraffes were ever shown so prominently on the Zimbabwean currency before. There is however, a pretty large image of a giraffe on the side of the front of the P-4 notes from the first dollar series – because everything about the design of these things traces back to the first dollars.

The bond notes also seem significantly different than the preceding series in terms of their aspect ratio – looking longer and thinner than the third and fourth dollars. This makes sense in that the country and central bank were surely hoping to do everything they could to distance these bond notes from the previous failed 2nd, 3rd and 4th Zimbabwean currencies - not remind people of them. The RBZ tried to create a new beginning and convince everyone that this was the start of something new and good. It just did not work.

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