In Johannesburg, as in other parts of South Africa, the Decimalisation Board is preparing the public for the change-over, on Feb 14, from pounds, shillings and pence to the new monetary unit of the Rand, divided into 100 Cents.
In Johannesburg, as in other parts of South Africa, the Decimalisation Board is preparing the public for the change-over, on Feb 14, from pounds, shillings and pence to the new monetary unit of the Rand, divided into 100 Cents. The new unit derives its name from the Witwatersrand, South Africa's gold mining centre since 1886.
Shops are displaying old and new price tags side by side, warning customers that "schooldays are here again for all of us". Hoardings bear posters showing old and new currency and explaining the easiest way of converting one into the other. Pamphlets issued by the Board, in English, Africans and number of Bantu languages, are circulated among the population. Although the new currency is not yet officially out, shiny new cents are already going from hand to hand for the purpose of instruction. Banks remain closed on Feb 13 to facilitate the change-over.
Once the transition period - expected to last between 15 and 20 months - is over and the Rand firmly established as South Africa's sole currency, it should be easy enough for people to work in units of tens and hundreds instead of twelve and twenties. The real difficulty lies in the interim period when different shops will be handling one of the other currency. One Rand has been fixed at ten shillings, which makes ten new Cents the same as one old shilling. Since the existing shilling has twelve pence, the value of Cents can be given only approximately when compared with pennies. Only units of three pennies have direct equivalents in Cents. Handy calculators are to help people with their conversion problems.
The introduction of decimal coinage is being considered also in other parts of the Commonwealth. Australia and New Zealand are holding inquiries on the subject, and a Government committee in the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland has recommended change similar to South Africa's.