The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) says the old kwacha note series would cease to be legal tender on May 22 this year.
In a communication to heads of commercial banks dated February 28, RBM deputy governor (Operations) Mary Nkosi, however, said the old coin series will continue to circulate side by side with the new coins until such time as the former are withdrawn from circulation.
Nkosi has since advised all the banks to “accept all old series banknotes brought for exchange by the public and exchange old for new series bank notes up to 22 May 2013”.
She said commercial banks should refer the public to RBM for currency brought for exchange after the May 22 deadline.
The RBM has also advised the bank to stop issuing the old series banknotes and deposit them at the central bank “periodically as and when they are brought to you by the general public”.
The new currency series comprise K20, K50, K100, K200, K500 and K1 000 notes as well as K1, K5, and K10 coins.
According to the RBM, the currency review resulted in the sizes of the K20, K50 and K100 notes being reduced by over 20 percent whereas the K200 and K500 notes were, on average, trimmed by more than 30 percent.
On the part of the coins, their weight was also reduced by over 60 percent while their diameters are also smaller to make the currency easier to handle.
The notes bear the images of Malawians such as Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda (K1 000), Reverend John Chilembwe (K500), Rose Chibambo (K200), James Frederick Sangala (K100), Inkosi ya Makosi Gomani II (K50) and Inkosi ya Makhosi M’mbelwa II (K200).
The selection of portraits used on the new family of banknotes, according to RBM, was largely determined by historical and political considerations in consultation with the executive arm of government and the history department of Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, who came up with a list of names of prominent Malawians who played significant roles in the fight for political liberation in all the three geographical regions of the country against colonial rule.