A few months ago, author William Gumede described Zuma as someone with a narcissistic personality disorder — a set of traits defined by Austrian psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut as “including an exaggerated sense of superiority, a lack of self-awareness about the impact of their behaviour and having a disdain for others, who they devalue to validate their own grandiosity”. These people lack empathy, have a distorted sense of reality and are incapable of seeing anything from anyone else’s perspective. Narcissists like Zuma, Gumede argues, can’t accept responsibility and don’t care if they take down entire countries with them. The events at Nkandla, sadly for Zuma, only reinforced that perspective.
Despite all these considerations, Mbeki’s stance on AIDS prevailed for only a time. The overwhelming evidence that emerged that AIDS was devastating communities, coupled with increasingly incontrovertible evidence that ARVs were restoring health and saving lives, the relentless courage of Mbeki’s media critics on AIDS, the TAC and its allies in COSATU, coupled – crucially – with former President Nelson Mandela’s influential intervention all precipitated inner-circle conditions that made it possible to prevail upon Mbeki to permit publicly-funded ARV treatment to be made
available. Unfavourable international focus on President Mbeki’s stance also assisted in breaking the denialist grip on AIDS policy. – Judge Edwin Cameron and Nathan Geffen in The deadly hand of denial: Governance and politically-instigated AIDS denialism in South Africa