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.
The suggestion that the chief value that Ramaphosa adds to Lonmin is connectedness to the government will deepen the impression that if you are black and want to make it in business, you had better be politically connected. That makes it a lot more difficult to encourage the rise of black people who have a talent for business rather than politics. Signalling that black people are assets to large companies only if they can open doors to the government also makes it much less likely that our politics will be about public service rather than greed. Much of today’s political jockeying is about access to resources. But, while much of the debate assumes that people are looking for public money through tenders and the like, often the motive is to access private wealth. If the message reaching ambitious black people is that private-sector opportunities are more likely if you are politically connected, it is not surprising that part of the political game becomes how to gain a position that will be attractive to companies. – Steven FriedmanBACK TO TOP