South Africans will soon get their hands on the new R5 coins bearing the face of struggle stalwart Oliver Reginald Tambo in the year that he would have turned 100 years old.
The Reserve Bank and the South African Mint on Wednesday launched a series of four new commemorative coins honouring the late struggle stalwart. Three of the coins are collectible coins.
The new R5 circulation coin, which is one of the four coins, bears the “Order of the Companions of OR Tambo”, which was instituted in 2002 to honour international Heads of State and eminent people for their friendship to South Africa.
The R5 coin, acknowledges the leader’s contribution to the struggle for equality and inclusiveness.
The reverse of the coin features a neck badge and walking stick. The obverse depicts the national coat of arms, year of issue and ‘South Africa’ written in English and Xitsonga.
The symbols reflected on the coin include the Majola (mole snake), which, according to African mythology, embodies friendship, protection and active support. The walking stick signifies support and commitment and the universal yin and yang symbol suggests a meeting point for diverse spiritual energies.
The R5 commemorative coin forms part of the existing coins already in circulation.
Speaking at the launch of the coins, Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said Tambo led his life with integrity.
“Oliver Reginald Tambo’s life was integrity, trust and accountability personified. The power and emotion behind his speeches lay in the clarity of his thoughts, not in the delivery and the fiery of his rhetoric. His integrity shone through, defining all his interactions with everyone, young and old, senior and rank and file members,” said Governor Kganyago.
The R5 circulatory coin is worth its face value, said the central bank. The coin came into circulation on 1 October.
Meanwhile, the central bank urged South Africans not to hold on to the circulation coin when they receive them as change as “commemorative coins are made to be appreciated by everyone”.
South African Mint Managing Director Tumi Tshehlo also unveiled the other commemorative coins that depict Tambo during his youth and presidency of the African National Congress (ANC).
The coins — which will be available on what would have been Tambo’s 100th birthday on 27 October 2017 — will be accessible for purchase individually and as a set, and can be bought directly from the South African Mint, as well as approved dealers.
The four-coin set consists of a 1 oz pure gold R500 proof coin, a 1 oz sterling-silver R50 proof coin, a base-metal R50 non-circulating legal tender coin and a R5 commemorative circulation coin. The three collectors’ coin set does not include the gold proof coin.
The reverse of the 1 oz pure gold coin features a stylised interpretation of OR Tambo representing his ‘mission in exile’, a term he used in reference to his ANC presidency during which the movement was banned, together with his full name, denomination of R500 and metal value 1 oz Au 999.9.
The sterling-silver coin features on its reverse a stylised interpretation of OR Tambo as a young man, together with his full name ‘Oliver Reginald Tambo’, the centenary date ‘2017’, the denomination of R50 and metal value 1 oz Ag 925 Cu 75.
The sterling-silver coin features on its reverse a stylised interpretation of OR Tambo as a young man, together with his full name, the centenary date, the denomination of R50 and metal value ‘1 oz Ag 925 Cu 75’.
The reverse of the non-circulating legal tender coin features a stylised interpretation of OR Tambo together with his full name, ‘Oliver Reginald Tambo’, the centenary date ‘2017’, as well as the denomination of R50 and metal value ‘Cu Al Ni ’.
This is the first time that the South African Mint is releasing a non-circulating, collectible legal tender coin made from the same base metal used in other South African circulation coins.
Tshehlo said the coin design has gone through the same approval process as other legal tender commemorative coins and has been approved by Cabinet and the Minister of Finance, which makes it a legal tender.
“The coin, however, is non-circulating as it is not redeemable at banks and not for use to purchase products or services at face value. It can only be redeemed at the South African Mint for its face value of R50,” he said.
SA Mint is a subsidiary of Reserve Bank.
Tambo’s son Dali thanked the central bank and SA Mint for the coins, as well as all South Africans for remembering Tambo’s contribution to the country’s liberation.
“To all you who have come here today, you’ve made a real imprint on this centenary, one that is going to last for many years to come,” he said, adding that among them was a song penned by legendary acapella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, ‘Long Live Oliver Tambo’.
“We want to tell South Africans that among you, you produced this man who loved you, who worked tirelessly throughout his life for you. We thank you all for what you have done and what you continue to do,” said Tambo.
Government has declared 2017 as the year of OR Tambo.
Former President Kgalema Motlanthe, Former Speaker of the National Assembly Frene Ginwala, who is also chair of the Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation, as well as former First Lady Zanele Mbeki attended Wednesday’s launch.