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.
What is it with us looking for a saviour to rise from these streets? In the recent months it has been Cyril Ramaphosa who will save the ANC from itself and us all from Zuma’s government. And if that fails we have the National Development Plan that will fix everything. Like Ramphela and Ramaphosa, the National Development Plan is great. It might be my own pessimism, but in my opinion these are, all three, not (powerfully) shapers of historical outcomes … they are effects, not causes. The NDP is just a piece of paper, an adequate diagnosis and a bundle of good intentions. Ramaphosa is embedded in something much more powerful, and scarier, than he will ever be. Ramphela is a single person with no established political constituency, no party machinery and a reputation for humiliating her senior managers in public (… aside from all those good things I mentioned earlier). Sure, we can hope that she will sweep the ANC’s patronage networks aside and replace it with a meritocracy pure as the driven snow. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. – Nic BorainBACK TO TOP