Over the past two weeks, The Zimbabwean has found civil servants, city council workers, employees from the remaining few industries and unemployed graduates from the Midlands State University all taking part in illicit gambling.
Social commentator and MSU lecturer Peter Mandava said the rise in the number of professionals who were now gambling to make ends meet was a wake-up call for government to speed up efforts to salvage the ailing economy.
“History shows that in a country where the economy is under-performing, people tend to venture into such things as gambling because, though no meaningful income is obtained, at least they are kept occupied and instilled with a sense of hope.
“However, such an occurrence is not good. It just should be a challenge for policy-makers and government to find ways of alleviating the poverty through opening up avenues of opportunities for the unemployed graduates and improving the lives of those who are already in the job market,” he said.
The survey revealed that syndicates from bigger cities like Harare and Bulawayo were now taking advantage of gullible professionals to con them out their already paltry wages. The syndicates have devised illegal games, which they use to lure people to play at flea markets, big supermarkets and at the long distance bus terminus, Kudzanayi.
Though police sometimes swoop on the culprits, they plant colleagues on street corners to watch out for the law enforcement agents.
“Many people are being duped out of huge sums of money by the gambling syndicates. One is made to first pay money ranging from $2 to $10 in the hope that they can end up winning more cash or products in the dice game or lucky dip,” said teacher Fellina Dube. Dube said she had lost $68 in the process.
“People are lured to play the games because they are desperate and hope to supplement their little income,” she said. “In the end, they lose out greatly.”
“Life has just become difficult and so we need to try all sorts of things that can make us money,” said Fortunate Mhiko. “That is why you will be shocked to realise that a person like me, who is a building artisan, is here trying to raise some cash in the dicing game,”
Mhiko was one of a crowd of around 70 people outside the famous Morah Building playing the dice game. Nobody by the syndicates seemed to be winning
A few metres away, others were playing Njuga, which involves paying a stake to predict a “winning” number from a deck of cards.
“City life has become so difficult especially to some of us who are not being paid by our companies. So we cannot help but try gambling. It’s not out of choice,” said Michael Hlabangani at Kudzanayi terminus.
A visit to the horse-racing outlet in Main Street along the Mvuma road also revealed that more professionals were frequenting the place.
An employee at the betting shop, which also takes bets on the results of UK Barclays League football matches, said lecturers from the local colleges, school heads, civic society leaders, councillors in the city and top government officials were regular clients.Post published in: News