Former president Jacob Zuma’s appearance at the Zondo commission into state capture this week was a masterclass in blind narcissism. Were we to believe what Zuma said under oath — and there’s no good reason to do so — we’d have to see the near-collapse of SA as primarily due to a decades-old global conspiracy targeting one man. As he told it, a shadowy group of cartoon-like villains have been set on destroying him since the early 1990s, and they almost succeeded when he was recalled as president in 2018. But their ultimate success would be his humiliation before this commission — an inquiry he instituted himself. Now, that’s some display of cunning.This was conspiracy theory of the tinfoil-hat order, unworthy of even an airport novel. As Zuma told it, we had international agencies working covertly in cahoots to pick pliable ANC leaders, a suicide-bomber gang, a series of failed poisoning attempts and failed assassinations. You have to ask: given how awful these spies routinely were ...

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