The Republic of Zaire was a Congolese region that existed between 1971 and 1997 in Central Africa. It was previously and now again named the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Zaire was formed after its ruler Mobutu Sese Seko was overthrown in a military coup in 1965 which was followed by a political uprising known as the Congo Crisis. When Mobutu was in control, Zaire’s economic situation started to stabilize. However, in 1979, it began to decline.  Read along to read about the Zaire banknotes that circulated during the era.

President Mobutu of Zaire | Source: Wikipedia

New Name New Changes

After the country changed its name from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Zaire, the Banque Nationale du Congo which was responsible for the issuance of notes changed its name to the Banque Nationale de Zaire and a new currency, the zaire, was introduced to replace the franc. The zaire currency was subdivided into 100 makuta.  

Zaire 5 Zaires Banknote | 1975 | P-21c | Source: Banknote World Educational

In 1972, the Bank of Zaire issues its first banknotes in denominations of 1,5, and 10 Zaires. A new 50 makuta follows the next year.  

Zaire 1,000 Zaires Banknote | 1985 | P-31s | Specimen | Source: Banknote World

Between 1982 and 1985, another set of new Zaire Banknotes begins to circulate around the country. These paper bills were first printed by the Hotel des Monnaies in Zaire under the technical supervision of Giesecke & Devrient. Giesecke continued printing these banknotes since the state-run company couldn’t keep abreast with the demand of high inflation. Design elements common to these banknotes are the coat of arms of the country and a portrait of Mobutu Sese Seko wearing his uniform shown on the obverse.  

Zaire 1 Million Nouveaux Zaires Banknote | 1996 | P-79, | Source: Banknote World

Last Zaire Banknotes Before Exile

Between 1993 and 1994, a new currency begins to circulate due to a revaluation and inflation which reaches 3,000%. Its name is the Nouveau Zaire.

In the 1990s, Zaire had fallen and in 1996, the militia Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo under the command of Laurent-Desire Kabila initiated a rebellion against Mobutu. Kabila’s forces were triumphant, causing Mobutu’s exile in Morocco.  

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