The article presented in this posting was sourced from the December 2012 issue of the International Bulletin of TAU SA. It was the words “Personality Disorder” in the very first paragraph that immediately caught my attention – not because it seemed out of place in an article dealing with politics, Zuma and the ANC, but because I was once married to someone who suffered from this psychological condition.
There’s quite a lot of online information available on this disorder, so I won’t go into too much detail. What’s important to know is that there are various types ranging from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to the worst kind called, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The narcissistic types are extremely dangerous people to be in a relationship with. They are unpredictable and extremely manipulative… One day they’ll love you to bits and the next day they’ll be scheming on how to murder you... I’m not joking, it’s true!
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that crazy fellow dubbed "Modimolle Monster" also suffered from NPD!
According to the facts presented in the following article, the behaviour of South Africa’s President, his compatriots, his followers, his employees in government, and many in civil society slot neatly into the category of NPD. This is real scary, bad news - believe me I know!
Bear in mind that it is not easy to divorce someone who suffers from this disorder, no matter what settlement you offer them. Instead, they’ll transform your life into an agonizing hell… And, by the time you get to the final stage where a court order legally separates the parties, you’ll have absolutely nothing left – except maybe the pants you’re wearing, if you’re lucky!
THE SYMPTOMS BESPEAK THE DISORDER
TAU SA - International Bulletin, December 2012
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by a standing pattern of grandiosity and a complete lack of empathy for others. People with this disorder often display, inter alia, disdainful or patronizing attitudes and have a great sense of self-importance, believe that they are "special" and deserving, have a very strong sense of entitlement, are exploitive of others, and regularly show arrogant and haughty behaviour. (From PsychCentral.com/disorders.)
You may insist on having "the best" of everything - the best car, the best athletic club, the best social circle. But underneath this behaviour often lies a fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. In order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself feel better. (From mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder)
At the end of 2012, most South Africans find themselves beset with a sense of trepidation. Except for an elite few from the ruling classes, the ANC's revolutionary promises have withered into a vortex of failure and sour disappointment. We are witnessing a bizarre behavioural paradigm where accountability and its corollaries shame, guilt and remorse, are virtually non-existent.
An example of this is that despite the avalanche of damning information concerning the actions of the State President, including his profligacy, his evasiveness regarding the cost of his residential compound, his efforts - so far successful - to thwart the judicial process concerning 783 charges of corruption against him, and his complete and public inability to exert any control over the country's decline in virtually all areas of public governance, he blithely sets himself up for another four years of "governance" and is supported by his party, the ANC, and millions of hapless voters who are told that without Zuma, their social welfare payments will disappear and that the country will "go back to apartheid".
The president's behaviour and the conduct of many at all levels of our society is pure narcissism. A "narcissistic personality disorder" (NPD) has become a norm within many sectors in South Africa. PsychCentral.com says that a person can be "diagnosed" with NPD if he meets just five of the dozen or so symptoms of this disorder. The word "diagnosed" alludes to the fact that NPD borders on being a psychiatric disorder.
The SA President's behaviour and that of his compatriots, his followers, his employees in government and many in civil society slot neatly into many of the NPD categories, giving rise to the situation where NPD could be classed as a national disorder. It is more prevalent in males than in females, and the causes, according to PsychCentral.com, can possibly be due to biological and genetic factors, as well as social and psychological factors.
A COMMON DISORDER
The "grandiose sense of self importance" is amplified by PsychCentral.com as "a person who exaggerates achievements and talents, and expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements". Our State President is a fitting candidate. Critics are amazed at his equanimity under criticism, his talent for avoiding culpability, and his spirited defence of the indefensible. City Press calls it "the new denialism". Everyone is to blame for South Africa 's slide into chaos except Mr. Zuma and the ANC.
"A man with as thick a skin as Zuma and such a heightened sense of self-preservation just forges on shamelessly" says Richard Calland of the Mail & Guardian (9.11.12). South Africa is reaching the point of what commentator Pierre de Vos calls "outrage fatigue". It doesn't matter what is thrown up in the wash, what outrages are committed, what criticism is levelled, or what the country suffers because of his behaviour, Zuma is oblivious, except where his power and wealth are affected. He and his friends and colleagues simply dismiss criticism as racism, or "playing politics" or they give "stern warnings" to those who dare question this ludicrous conduct.
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He rails against criticism. Any black who ventures to criticize him "is too big for his boots, or "a clever black who reads newspapers". He said in early November that "unemployment in South Africa is deeply structural and that joblessness had a history in South Africa ". Further, it cannot be that inequality is growing, he declared, because he "has given grants to more than 15 million people". "The clever people are lying" he retorted recently in response to some bad press, and to say the ANC is corrupt "is untrue". He portrays himself as "a victim of political conspiracies", declares City Press.
Addressing the Foreign Correspondents' Association recently, Mr. Zuma said the Marikana massacre was a "mishap", that there was no crisis in the mining sector, and he shouldn't be blamed for "the past injustices of colonialism, apartheid and exploitation".
NPD symptoms are widespread. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has ignored a Supreme Court of Appeal order to hand over to the Democratic Party tape transcripts allegedly implicating the President in the afore-mentioned 783 cases of fraud. This contempt of a court ruling would be unheard of in any normal country. But the NPA has taken its cue from the President and others within the ruling structure who have such a sense of entitlement that they have "unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with their expectations", according to the definition of another NPD symptom. In other words, the ruling clique is above the law.
In a rambling speech at a recent African Farmers Association of South Africa (AFASA) dinner, President Zuma reeled off the failures of his government's land reform program without apparently recognizing his own government's shortcomings. He saw the situation in a different light: while declaring that commercial agriculture produced 90% of South Africa’s food, he then declared his government's National Development Plan contained "a long term solution to the country's food security".
But the obvious long term solution to South Africa 's food security is to leave the commercial farming sector alone to produce this 90% of the country's sustenance. There is no need for another plan, another turn-around strategy or ten point program, another summit or another gala dinner to discuss how to maintain food security. We already have it, albeit that it depends on many elements outside the control of commercial agriculture. This self-important pomposity, these endless speeches about what we "need" to do feeds the self-delusion that whatever he says is important, even though in reality it isn't.
Under the ANC government, South Africa’s water resources have been, in many instances, polluted beyond redress. Yet the Department of Water Affairs continues to place full page employment ads in the national press for highly technical positions which are rarely filled due to the government's own Employment Equity policy which virtually rules out white applications for these specialized positions. This endless circle of absurdity goes on and on, yet government officials and cabinet cannot see the folly of their policies. This self-delusion has become inimical to South Africa’s future survival.
PROFESSOR JONATHAN JANSEN
University of the Free State 's Professor Jonathan Jansen has highlighted a very serious consequence of the ruling establishment's narcissistic tendencies, although he doesn't define them as such. Bewailing the state of South African education at a recent function, Professor Jansen says that the value of education has lost all meaning for, inter alia, rural communities, and that there is a "visible lack of connection between education and economic well-being".
In other words, who needs to go to school when a poorly-educated president can build a home for himself at Nkandla for R240 million of state money with impunity, and where he, his fellow cabinet members, officials, municipal counsellors and anyone else who can get away with it can plunder the country with a misguided sense of entitlement and with no shame. (The president says comments about his lavish home are an "exaggeration".)
Professor Jansen says there is no attempt to infiltrate logic or debate into the public sphere. Displaying wealth and ostentation only fires the masses to want the same. "They want the material things without having to build towards such attainment via education and training."
NPD trickles down. South Africa’s civil servants (many of whom are neither civil nor serve) are the recipients of one of the most expensive wage bills in the world. According to the National Treasury, these bureaucrats are paid 11, 5% of the country's Gross Domestic Product. (The Russian Federation spends 3, 7%, Brazil spends 4, 8%, Japan spends 6, 2%, with only the US, the UK and a few other developed countries spending a little more than South Africa.)
But who hasn't experienced the surly hospital nurses, the striking and absentee school teachers, the ministerial spokesperson who "cannot be reached for comment", the phones in government, provincial and municipal offices that ring and ring forever, unanswered by those who don't give a fig about the public. This arrogance and incompetence is only exceeded by the concomitant sense of entitlement. These bureaucrats believe they deserve these jobs, whether qualified or not.
NPD trickles down further. The taxi drivers who hog the roads, who stop arbitrarily and halt long lines of traffic; the traffic policemen who are simply not on point duty when traffic lights fail; the trade unions' striking masses who "deserve" a job, who trash their employers' property and assault those who want to work. No wonder South Africa is sliding into a pit. These character traits are palpable symptoms of NPD.
Compare this syndrome to the work ethic found in most developed countries. The South East Asian tiger economies value dedication, loyalty, hard graft and job satisfaction, the antithesis of the characteristics that are identified with many South Africans.
The TV program Undercover Boss which is franchised in the UK, the US, Canada and Australia is significantly not produced in South Africa , also an English-speaking country. This program follows a CEO who works undercover in his company, and virtually without exception, he finds the workers he deals with are dedicated, loyal, hard working and ambitious. They do not moan about their pay, they are not heavily unionized, and they work under all sorts of difficult conditions, for long hours without complaint, while many of them have private domestic and financial problems. This is why these countries are progressive, and why South Africa will never be able to compete. South African Affirmative Action has replaced the work ethic with, in many cases, the drones, the complainers and the obstructionists.
Journalist Bryan Rostron has sized up President Zuma and the ANC most succinctly! "Awareness of corruption implies the possibility of a sense of shame or, at least, of public revulsion. It is a far more critical matter when people don't even know their rotten behavior is dishonest, when they think of it as either their due or an acceptable custom". (Business Day 2.11.12)
During President Zuma's tenure, we have witnessed a carnival of corruption, says Rostron. Significantly, presidential inaction or vacillation in the face of the looting and squandering of public money could lead to a lawyer arguing one day that President Zuma and certain members of his family suffer from "a medical syndrome: the apparent inability to distinguish between his and other people's money". It is a "compulsive disorder" says Rostron.
This brilliant article declares that corruption is now "part of the social fabric", and he singles out the baffled tones of departmental spokesmen when questioned about some egregious wasteful expenditure or downright fraud. "They can seem genuinely puzzled about what the interviewer is going on about", says Rostron. He cites the "cavalier attitude" and the lack of a sense of shame that permeates the country's political and administrative structures.
Killing the messenger is a classic symptom. Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu sees herself as so important that she resents Parliamentary questions and doesn't even answer some of them. The DA's David Maynier's insistence that she answer for her large expenditure on more than 200 flights in a luxury Gulfstream jet between Pretoria and Cape Town (at R200 000 a trip) was met with invective by Sisulu in Parliament. When pressed to account for herself (as a public servant), she said Mr. Maynier's claims were "hogwash and balderdash" and that he should "take his flea-infested body and sit down".
Thus we return to the beginning of our Bulletin - the psychological disorder of narcissism. How will South Africa handle this? It is evident in many parts of Africa, with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe a prime example.
American black journalist Keith Richburg says in his book Out of America - A black man confronts Africa (1998) that Africa plays on the white guilt of aid donors; that knowing the right person is an easy way to attain wealth; and how eventually those who came to Africa to "help" simply got tired of the whole morass and left the continent forever. Problems in Africa are not self-generated, he often heard: they were someone else's fault - colonialism, the evils of the Western exploiters, and so on. He called Africa "a senseless continent". In Africa, he declared, "the good guys don't win". The Big Men rule the roost - arrogant, extravagant, enjoying the fruits of someone else's hard work. The promise of democracy has faded, he says, and "heavily flawed elections are conducted mainly to ratify the status quo". Africa’s failings are hidden behind "a veil of excuses".
While many have left the continent in disgust, millions of South Africans of all colours call this country home. They have to live with the ANC's denialism, corruption and public theft. What, then, to do with the ANC elephant in the room? This problem should focus our minds. They surely cannot last forever, and we should do everything to make this wish a reality.
This article was sourced from the December 2012 issue of the International Bulletin of TAU SA