Zuma was telling the truth about Nkandla - body language expert

2016-05-19 12:53


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Durban – President Jacob Zuma showed all the signs of being honest - or believed he was not lying - when he answered questions in Parliament about his Nkandla homestead on Tuesday, a body language expert said.

Co-founder of Let's Live Coaching, Francois Janse van Rensburg analysed the president's body language while he responded to DA leader Mmusi Maimane's question in the National Assembly. He said either Zuma believed what he was saying or he had been trained well on how to answer questions.

The president's open hand exposing his palms and tapping the right side of his chest, where the heart is, were all signs that he was probably not lying when he told MPs he and his family paid for his KwaZulu-Natal home, van Rensburg.


Zuma exuded confidence and appeared relaxed, despite the rocky start to the question and answer session when the Economic Freedom Fighters were thrown out.

Zuma giggled when EFF MPs said they would not allow him to speak because he had flouted the Constitution when he ignored the Public Protector's findings on Nkandla. He laughed when DA MPs called him "a joke".

"You must laugh if I am a joke. Why don't you laugh?" he told them.

Van Rensburg said he chose his words carefully, and used terms like "my home" instead of "upgrades".

Van Rensburg said Zuma opened himself up to the public and the people he was responding to.

"He looked them directly in the eyes and did not fidget with his clothes. His posture was very consistent. He did not seem too uncomfortable when answering the questions. When people lie, they change positions a lot because they are uncomfortable."

He said the only way political parties could corner Zuma was to ask direct questions.

"Some of them stood up and read their long question on a piece of paper. Zuma is 74, it would take a genius to remember the questions, understand them and answer all of them."

'Arrogant and in control'

Political analyst, Professor Susan Booysen, of the Wits University Graduate School of Public and Development Management, said Zuma came across as "arrogant and in control".

"He came across as [someone displaying] false bravado to show us that he is still in control.”

Booysen said Zuma was "a clever strategic operator".

"He wears five different faces and he will show you the face you need to see at that time."

His confidence came from having a good support system from Cabinet members like State Security Minister David Mahlobo.

"He definitely played cat and mouse and he was the cat in the room."

She said Zuma showed immense arrogance in his choice of words.

"He does not care if his statement contradicts what he said before. He cares about today and now. He has shown that he is powerful and that he is able to retain that power."

Zuma always lands on his feet

University of Stellenbosch's Professor Willie Breytenbach said Zuma was a "cat with nine lives".

"I think he acted like a boxer in the ring coming behind on points, and near the end of the match he suddenly comes up with these theatrics like Mohammed Ali. What I saw there was not confidence, it was false bravado.

"But the thing about Zuma is that he always makes a comeback. He always lands on two feet, no matter what," said Breytenbach.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  nkandla upgrade  |  parliament 2016

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