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.
Government’s inability to accept criticism and facilitate dialogue was highlighted in the recent vociferous debate about whether Cape Town is a “racist city”. The phrasing of the debate is unproductive, but the truth is that there are few cities in South Africa where our nation’s divided past is so stark. Although our city has made some progress since 1994 in providing services to historically neglected communities, we must accept that Cape Town’s racial and class divisions remain largely intact. You just have to drive the short distance from Cape Town’s leafy suburbs to the sprawling shantytowns at the city’s margins to see this. Finding lasting solutions requires us to be honest about these difficult realities. – Gavin Silber in an article on PoliticswebBACK TO TOP