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.
But there was a moment when the mask slipped, and slipped badly. Moffet Mofokeng from the City Press, a mild-mannered, very experienced, and very polite reporter asked simply, “Mr President, the movements in your office, can you give us an update on them?” No hostility, no malice, no agenda. Just a request for information. Zuma became a different person. He leant forward as far as the lectern would allow, “The problem with you guys”, he said, “is that you discuss matters that are not relevant to you, the discussions are confidential, we should end the matter there. Don’t go to speculation, even though that’s your right.” He stopped there. And caught himself. There was a definite pause, then that peculiar grunt he makes whenever under pressure, and he laughed. And ended with, “you’re just trying to make matters confidential not confidential.” – Stephen Grootes on President Jacob Zuma’s post-lekgotla press conferenceBACK TO TOP