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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 17:47 GMT
Lotto fever in Zimbabwe
By Lewis Machipisa
BBC, Harare

Queue for petrol
Queues are a regular part of life
Lotto fever has hit Zimbabwe with long winding queues as people from all walks of life rush to buy a ticket for chance to win a record-breaking jackpot.

With Zimbabwe's inflation at an all time high of 200%, rising unemployment and diminishing wages, the prospect of becoming an instant millionaire has proved overwhelming.

This afternoon many people used their lunch-time break to dash and queue for a chance to win the US$1.2m jackpot this Saturday - the highest since the lottery began a few years ago.

They come from all walks of life. Black, White and Indians. I even saw a Chinese looking couple.

Hopes

Now the lottery has made many people rich but never has the jackpot been this high and people queuing to buy the lotto tickets were clearly excited thinking about what they could do if they bought the winning ticket.

Shop girl in rural store
People have been buying tickets in their lunch hours
"It would mean a lot. Especially considering the economic situation right now. It would come in handy," one ticket buyer told me.

"Some would go to my education, some to buying a house and some a car," said another.

In this period of rapid economic decline, the worst since the country attained independence in 1980, anything offering even the remotest chance of getting out of poverty is most welcome.

So before I left one of the Lotto outlets, I too made sure I bought some tickets.

But as I was leaving one man told me he knew of a witchdoctor who was reporting brisk business with scores of people visiting him to get lucky charms.

Maybe I should have done that.



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