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.
[T]he fact of the matter is that we still have a significant proportion of people among the white minority, but by no means everybody who is white, that continues to live in fear of the black, and especially African majority. For this section of our population, that does not “find it too difficult to revert to the accustomed world of fear of the future”, every reported incident of crime communicates the frightening and expected message that – the kaffirs are coming!
Unlike past letters on racism in which President Mbeki made excellent points on racism, only to misuse the insights to attack some of his critics, this letter is mostly free of the sarcasm and tarring of all with the same brush. I was reminded of his notorious letter about the media being “the fishers of corrupt men”, in which he made very valid points about racism, only to use these to argue that when the media exposes corruption it is inevitably based on racism.
Having had the misfortune this week to listen to a few minutes of the phone in programme with Nicky van der Berg on Radio Sonder Grense (don’t ask), the words of our President seem particularly apt. Some among us (as he used to say!) really have not acc epted the humanity of their fellow South Africans.