Miriam Mannak
Miriam Mannak

A harsh analogy of a crisis

Picture the scene of a woman being severly beaten up by her husband, in the very middle of the amphitheatre at the V&A Waterfront. She cries in terror, revulsion, and despair to all who can hear. She begs for help, and tries to alter her behavior and identity to calm down and please her man.The abuse continues nevertheless. Now picture this: no one helps. While the one person is admonishing the perpetrator with a wagging finger, some people turn the other way and pretend they didn’t hear and see. Others try to talk to the man in a soothing voice, knowing that their gentle words are useless to her plight and drowned out by the sounds of the beating.

This is how one of my friends described the tragic crisis that we call “Zim”. A harsh analogy indeed, but perhaps it does define what is happening across the border.

For years on end, the Zimbabwean people have been screwed over: by their own leader and his cronies, but also by the European Union, by the United Nations, the African Union, America, China, and everyone else who has a political say in this world. Because no one responded to the cries of the Zimbabwean people, the gruesome footage we saw on TV and the numerous reports about human rights violation.

Well, apart from civil society. They have done a pretty good job in unveiling what was and is happening in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, no matter how hard NGOs, human rights organisations and political activists screamed, kicked, shouted, protested, and sent out petitions — they could prevent the tragedy from unfolding and worsening. Why? Because those who represent us — from Thabo Mbeki to George W Bush and Tony Blair and everyone in between — refused to listen, open their mouths and develop strategies to curb and stop the madness. Until now, but unfortunately, it’s too late.

One of the sad things is that Zim will soon lose its news value. What is happening across the border holds the world’s attention. Today, that is. All eyes are focused on what is going on — the death throes of a tragedy we’ve turned a blind eye to. What will happen when it is all over, when Bob is sworn into power and the victim lies on the floor, paralysed in fear? I suspect that after a while — a short while — the world probably will be focused on the next newsworthy item, whether it be a natural disasters or a the next political blunder in Pretoria. That is how it works: the media will eventually cease to report on a certain matter, as the shelf life of a newsworthy development is quite limited. As a result, the public and the politicians will become less focused on that particular issue and slowly but surely will lose interest. And Zimbabwe will be forgotten — until the next elections, or when Tsvangirai ends up in hospital again with a skull fracture — or worse.

And with this, we make sure the abuse can continue …

  • Siobhan

    Excellent article, Miriam, and unfortunately probably accurate in its forecast of future lack of interest in Zim now that the ‘voting’ is over. One wonders how much indignation will be voiced by the African Union today in Egypt…

  • http://southafricanseamonkey.blogspot.com/ Po

    Sad but true, this is the way the world often works. But the eyes of the world have definitely turned to Zim for now. It is up to everyone to keep making noise about it, keep reminding the world of what is happening. Don’t let us forget. The internet, with blogs and undercover reporters helps keep things out there to keep the world reminded of Zim.

  • Siphiwo Qangani with kangaroos


    On your closing remarks, you said “…And with this, we make sure the abuse can continue …”

    What are you really trying to say?- “We make sure”….”can continue”, is that your wish, or you meant to say something else?

    I’m just giving you the benefit of the doubt, otherwise if you meant it-your wishes are just untorward

  • http://letpeoplespeak.amagama.com Lyndall Beddy

    The abuse in Zim will only loose its news value if you, the media, let it happen.

    It would be nice, for a change, for some solutions to be suggested.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/miriammannak Miriam Mannak

    @ Siphiwo – Of course that is not my wish. Of course not. What I wanted to say is that, by shoving Zimbabwe to the side and no longer focusing on the country – whether it is the media, the public or politicians – we basically enable the abuse from continuing.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/miriammannak Miriam Mannak

    @ Lyndall – It is not only the media who have a responsibility. The public also needs to be active, too. The public needs to demand news from Zimbabwe, so that we can provide. otherwise an editor will easily dismiss a certain issue as being ‘not relevant to the public’ or ‘this is not what the public wants to know’. Trust me – I have been there.

  • Brickmaker

    The only reason that the Sadec leaders have suddenly piped up is that they were faced with the very real possibility of another genocide a la Rwanda. Having explored every possibility of passing the blame onto the West, they realised that there was no chance. All those standing ovations they had given Mad Bob every time he swaggered into a summit or conferences over the years were about to blow up in their collective faces. Panic set in and they spoke up. Too little, too late. Every standing ovation was a slap in the face of the Zimbabwean people.

  • anton kleinschmidt

    Most of the statements of condemnation we hear from the worlds so-called leaders are little more than self aggrandizement sound bites. A case of look at me I am saying the right thing, but as soon as the media spotlight moves elsewhere so does their conscience. If things subsequently go wrong they simply remind us all that they spoke out.

    @ Siphiwo

    You might consider apologising to Miriam. The intent of her final sentence is perfectly clear

  • Alisdair Budd

    In light of some of the comments in this paper (online) and “Thought Leaders”, you might find the opinion article on this link something to be worth reading:


    Whatever you make think of Ian Bell, his article is a miss mash of Scottish and UK opinions on the Zim situation and is roughly accurate as to the public’s true feelings on the matter.

    the next time you’re reading about the Neo-colonialist west you might realise we know all about it and are waiting for Africa to do something.

    Let alone we’re dusting off our old Anti-Apartheid badges and “Free Mandela” t-shirts from the 60s and wondering what the f*ck it was all for since Mugabe leads Africa around by the nose and Mandela means nothing compared to his demented ravings.

  • amused reader

    Miriam, unfortunately this highlights a particular problem in our society, which specifically affects white South Africans.

    I cannot abide what is happening in Zimbabwe, but have had to watch helplessly on for nearly 10 years. I have no voice, and anything i say is dismissed as being out-of-date, pro-colonialist or simply racist by the ruling majority.

    There are of course also similarly minded black South Africans, but they too are in the significant minority, so, whilst we know it is wrong, we can do nothing, whilst in our name, we block the world from doing anything at the UN, at the AU and at SADC.

    It is not just Zimbabwe, the same situation repeats itself with crime, education, corruption and the accountability of our senior officials, upholding the constitution and much more besides.

    I am longing for the day when we whites (and similarly minded blacks) can stand together, and use the only weapon that we have, our financial muscle, through tax boycotts and the like, to bring leverage on the government to build a South Africa that we can all (Black brown and white) be proud of, and that benefits all South Africans, particularly the predominantly black poor, as opposed to just the ruling elite and their friends.

    If we do not find a way of drawing a line in the sand soon, the opportunity will be gone, and we will surely as day follows night, become the next Zimbabwe.

  • Joe

    Excellent article Miriam. Keeping Zimbabwe in the headlines will change nothing though. On the subject Zimbabwe or Robert Mugabe there is no political leader with any clout in Africa who will stand up and be counted.
    You are right of course; Zim will loose its appeal in the coming weeks and will be used to fill in the empty spaces on page 15.
    The country will eventually go belly up, Bob will no longer be able to line the pockets of the thugs who keep him in power and they will turn on him. Hopefully from this someone of integrity will rise from the ashes and start a new chapter.

  • http://letpeoplespeak.amagama.com Lyndall Beddy


    African Leaders will do nothing, but the West is NOT going to line Bob’s pocket any longer NOR release his and his kleptocrats stolen monies. This is make or break for Western Aid to Africa.

  • Thato

    I refer to a note from Amused Reader above. This is so true and I really agree with you 120%. If we can just focus on building ourselves as a nation (personal development, education, better jobs, health, etc) and forget about the colour of our skins, race, etc that will be great. I believe that God has created us all and loved us all to live happily on earth. So why not fight anything that is against principles, moral, ethics and values? Why people? why do we do this to ourselves? Are we so much possessed with evil that we don’t see any good in ourselves? Let’s not allow bitterness, anger, hostility and discrimination take over our lives. this is evil. Let’s embrace this good life that God has given us and put our hands together to fight evil, corruption, discrimination and crime. I love life and I hope everyone does. Let’s celebrate it each day by being good to each other.

  • Rory Short

    I agree completely with @Thato. The issue is to do with universal principles and has nothing to do with the colour of someone’s skin. Racism in all its shapes and forms has bedevilled the development of this country and Africa for centuries. Sadly it continues to do so in this country under the ANC government many of whose members seem to be unable to regcognise that racism whether practiced by blacks, whites, pinks or yellows is despicable and damages individuals and society whenever it is practiced no matter what the pretext for its practice.