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.
Millions of poor people do want a better life. But that does not mean they will demand changes the fiscus can’t afford — research shows that, because the poor are engaged in a battle for survival, they are pragmatic and aware of the limits to change. Poor people have been on the streets protesting for eight years and the demands that emerge are hardly extravagant. Often protesters simply want politicians to listen. Or they want tarred roads or better housing or that officials leave people to live and trade where they please. The militant voices are not those of the poor but of the organised middle class. The poor are not organised — this is why the grass-roots protests don’t produce detailed demands. Protests are often organised by ambitious local politicians who know people are unhappy but are not interested in bargaining to improve their lives. They are often a symptom of a lack of organisation. – Steven Friedman in Business DayBACK TO TOP