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 the unpredictable behavior of Brazilian voters can also lead to more baffling outcomes. In 1959, for example, Cacareco, a placid, middle-aged rhinoceros at the São Paulo zoo, was voted onto the city council, having won over 100,000 votes—and this is only the most famous case in Brazil’s long history of “protest votes.” Cacerco has been succeeded by other non-existent candidates, along with candidates from outside the sphere of professional politics, such as soccer players, fashion designers, Lilia M. Schwarcz in the New York Review of Books, writing on Brazilian democracystars, brash pop singers, faded ex-models, and various C-list celebrities with zero knowledge or experience of political life. – BACK TO TOP