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.
This is, of course, such a horrid, stereotypically sexist, thing to say that it is difficult to imagine that any reasonably intelligent person in 2007 in South Africa would say such a thing with a straight face. Let alone a person employed in such an important position in Parliament. Such talk belongs at Kappie Kommando Rallies and at Jong Dames Dinamiek Bible study groups.
Maybe she was joking? Maybe she is deeply religious and was just channeling the Pope and all the other dead or half-dead reactionary men? Maybe she is a secret supporter of Mr Jacob Zuma or Mbulelo Goniwe and was just showing some solidarity with the trusted old patriarchs?
In any case, the mind boggles. Can Parliament really afford to employ a women who spouts such hateful sexism? It is unimaginable that Parlaiment would not fire a Chief Financial Officer who suggests, say, that all black people are dishonest. This statement is the gender equivalent of such an utterance and if Parliament is serious about gender equality the new Chief Financial Officer should soon be the ex Chief Financial Officer.
Then again, don’t hold your breath. Patriarchy is far from dead in South Africa – even (or maybe especially) in the halls of Parliament.