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.
If Jacob Zuma is elected President of South Africa sometime next year, some of us will probably bemoan the fact that the voters had entrusted a man facing very serious criminal charges (carrying a 15 year compulsory jail term) with the most important job in the country. The Afro-pessimists will mutter that “only in Africa” this kind of thing can happen.
But that would, of course, be rubbish. After all, Sylvio Berlusconi was re-elected prime Minister of Italy despite his various legal troubles. Even more interesting, I note that it now seems likely (though incredible), that septuple felon Ted Stevens has in fact won his Alaska Senate race against Democrat Mark Begich., Stevens had already been convicted, yet it seems as if he will be re-elected to the US Senate.
This does not make a Zuma Presidency admirable or wise and neither does it validate the outragous decision by the ANC NEC to back Zuma for the Presidency regardless of what happens with his court case. However, it does place it in perspective. After all, although Schabir Shaik has already been convicted of corrupting Zuma, Zuma has not been convicted of any crime – unlike Stevens.
It places South African voters on par with the voters of Alaska – who has elected Sarah Palin as its Governor. This does not flatter South African (or Alaskan) voters, but neither does it signal the end of the world either. Potential or real crooks seem to populate politics all over the world….
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