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 …