Zimbabwean Zombie Dollars
20 Dollars 2020 Issue P104 (PUNL20a)

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Note Details

Set Details

Note Description: Zimbabwe, Reserve Bank
20 Dollars Pick Unlisted 2020
Grade: 67 EPQ
Country: ZIM
Note Number: ZIMUNL20a
- Wmk: Zimbabwe Bird & RBZ
Certification #: 8077592-056  
Owner: Revenant
Sets Competing: Zimbabwean Zombie Dollars  Score: 41
Date Added: 11/19/2020
Research: Currently not available

Owner's Description

After the events of early and mid-2021, I was just waiting for the official news that this currency is dead, this series is done, and this was the last note in it. As it turned out, I was wrong! There would be a $50 note and a $100 note - but that comes later.

By mid-Nov 2020 the people of the country seemingly had decided that they didn't care about the local currency or threats from the government with a ban of the use of foreign currency in domestic commerce. There was once again a cottage industry of cleaning and repairing US dollars and notes in an attempt to extend their use well beyond their intended useful life and people were taking almost anything that was still recognizable as a real US dollar over the new national currency. Threats of raids and the seizure of foreign currency at that point I suppose is seen as the risk you have to take and the cost of doing business - and seizing foreign currency in this way at this point is probably one of the government's best means by which to get money that is actually worth something.

John Robertson, an economist in the capital, Harare, said, “The main problem is that we do not have faith in our own currency, and so the Zimbabwe dollars that exist are now of such a low value we don’t want to carry them around because you need a large quantity just to buy a loaf of bread.”

If governments are good at anything though, it is denying reality. On 30 Nov 2020 the government doubled down, saying it stood behind the national currency, that suspending the national currency in 2009 was one of the worst mistakes they made or could have made, and that they would not repeat it. In January 2021, Mr. Eddie Cross of the MPC said that a $50 and "higher denomination notes” would be coming in 2021. The RBZ quickly came back and said the $50 would be coming, but nothing else, for now.

We did finally get a $50 note in July 2021 and shortly thereafter we did get a $100 note. The $100 note was announced in April 2022, which was only about 9 months after the $50.

I suspect the original press release talking about their "intent" to release a $50 note was meant to counter Mr. Cross shooting his mouth off and thereby help to lessen inflationary pressures and expectations by saying that $100 and $200 notes were not coming. Saying a $50 note was coming simultaneously signaled that they were not giving up on the new national currency. So, I think the whole thing was a PR move for the RBZ.

It is worth noting that the $50 notes (and the $100 notes they released in 2022) are still dated "2020," suggesting that they were printed and ready in 2020 and that their release was just delayed for a while for some reason(s) I don't know. However, if the $100 notes were in fact printed in 2020 then that would prove that the RBZ was lying when they claimed in early 2021 that they were not considering anything over a $50 denomination – Yes! Shocking! I know.

Cross quit his position with the MPC in February 2021, expressing “frustration,” but he was also 81 years old at the time and that seems like as good a reason to quit as any. But it also means he had less of a reason to lie or to help them lie at that point.

The new $20 notes issued in 2020 likely use the same designs as would have been used by the bond notes that would had been issued as part of the aborted Bond Note series just a few years prior, but the new issues removed the words “Bond Note” from the front and back of the notes. We will never know for sure because $10 and $20 Bond Notes were never released. However, in 2019 they used the same designs as the 2016 and 2017 Bond Notes for the $2 and $5 notes, so there is no reason to think this is not also the case for the 2020 issues (short of a formal / official statement from the RBZ denying this, which I have not seen, and I don’t think I’d believe it if I did).

The original $20 notes, the P-4, issued starting in 1980, was primarily blues, teals, greens and aqua and the overall color scheme was very similar to these new notes. The fourth dollar $20 notes from 2009 (ZIM95) were also predominantly blue. On the back, both the P-4 and this note have an elephant – similarly posed in a front-facing / head toward the viewer kind of way – alongside and image of Victoria Falls.

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