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.
Human rights lawyer Geoff Budlender SC says courts should be seen as institutions that strengthen rather than undermine democracy, notes a Business Day report. Budlender said that in a participatory democracy, the courts played a crucial role as a ‘critical mechanism of accountability’ to the people. The Constitution gave the executive the function of developing and implementing policy, but this did not mean that every policy could claim a genuine democratic mandate, he said. According to the report, Budlender said his four years’ experience as a civil servant had shown him ‘it was unelected officials like me who made many of the most significant decisions’ on policy. The theory that the executive had ‘a monopoly of wisdom on policy questions, based on a democratic mandate, strikes me as somewhat remote from reality’, he said. Budlender added if courts were to live up to their role in democratising society, they needed to make judgments that did not undermine the other constitutional imperative – that the government should be able to govern. – Business DayBACK TO TOP