ON this eve of general elections, we cannot overlook the emerging unsettling pattern of behaviour being displayed by one of the presidential candidates: Nelson “Wamba dia Wamba” Chamisa (pictured).
By CONWAY TUTANI
The irony of it all is that Chamisa need not lie. Here is a person who is commanding big crowds wherever he goes and is in with a shout in the presidential race, but the compulsion to lie just seems to get the better of him — like those recently pardoned prisoners who found themselves back in jail mere days after being freed because they just cannot resist the urge to commit crime.
Following his trip to Bulawayo last week where he addressed a highly attended rally, Chamisa posted this “Wambalogy” on social media: “I was so touched when I went to (the late Vice-President) Dr (Joshua) Nkomo’s Matsheumhlope house. I was going there to see the history of this nation. However, the family told me one thing: They said ever since the death of Dr Nkomo, I am the first national leader to visit the house. They even offered to give me Dr Nkomo’s traditional knobkerrie (sceptre/intonga/tsvimbo).”
First, this is most highly misleading in that Chamisa never ever met the Nkomo family on that occasion. Second, it gets even worse when he puts words into the mouths of people he never met. Third, he is not “the first national leader to visit the house” since Nkomo died in 1999. Four, no one there offered him the sceptre because no one present had the authority to give away willynilly the Nkomo family heirloom, a valued possession that is passed down through the generations — totally disqualifying Chamisa because he is not of the Nkomo lineage.
It can be accepted that he was not completely fantasising about his “bullet train” promise because he could explain that by saying: “I am not lying. I am telling the future truth.” But to use the actual name of the Nkomo family to feed your lies is crossing the line into phantasmagoria. No wonder Nkomo’s son Sibangilizwe fumed: “It’s not a matter that you can joke about. It’s an abomination that he (Chamisa) can talk cheaply about intonga ka baba (my father’s spectre).” Indeed, it’s a no-go area, which every self-respecting son would defend from outsiders.
People — among them long-standing Chamisa supporters known to me and neutrals who were beginning to lean on his side following his demonstrable support because support is contagious — are now beginning to express reservations and questioning as to whether he could be suffering from a lying disorder, because the pattern of straying from the truth cannot be mistaken for anything else.
There is more disappointment than anger among some of Chamisa’s supporters. Reminds me of this saying by 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche: “I am not upset that you lied to me, I am upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
That is how Chamisa has let down big-time a large section of his supporters that they now don’t see him as believable anymore. Trust has been broken.
We are not talking of diehard supporters on the lunatic fringe such as the so-called MDC-T vanguard who refuse to face facts and see reason and sense, but level-headed moderate supporters, who constitute the majority, who do not want to be part of lies and any childish extremism.
Yes, people should dare to dream, but not to the extent of daydreaming like Walter Mitty, that comical fictional character given to grand and elaborate fantasies.
Has Chamisa been overawed and overwhelmed by his newly-elevated status? If he is overwhelmed by the occasion, this leads to the question: Does he have the right temperament to lead the national State? Is he level-headed enough to be President?
Chamisa’s lies have become so outrageous and frequent that we need to examine his unsavoury habit from a psychological perspective looking at both compulsive and pathological lying.
According to the Psychology Today journal, compulsive lying disorder is a term used to describe what may be a symptom of another psychiatric disorder such as borderline personality disorder or narcissism or bipolar disorder.
Not all people who are compulsive liars suffer from a psychiatric illness, but there is usually an underlying reason for the behaviour.
These types of people crave an audience and get high off it, and this leads them to lie more. Therefore, if you see someone constantly engaging in attention-seeking behaviours, he or she may also be lying to support this need.
The Psychiatric Times states pathological liars will often tell unbelievable stories, and the lies they contain may seem absolutely pointless.
In fact, a pathological liar may even tell lies that are self-incriminating. While almost everyone exaggerates stories sometimes, someone with a problem does it much of the time.
If you find yourself with your jaw falling open every time someone tells you a story, it’s probably because it’s not true. If this happens regularly, the person may be a pathological liar.
Getting a compulsive liar to admit he or she lied can be nearly impossible. Indeed, some people get so accustomed to lying that they do so even when there is no clear purpose, and when their lies are easily disproven, leaving everyone scratching their heads over the point of their deceptions.
Could this self-incriminating lying disorder be behind Chamisa’s needless self-destructive lying?
Conway Nkumbuzo Tutani is a Harare-based columnist. Email: email@example.com