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Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

125 challenge the UDF to

125 challenge the UDF to explain how Malawi‟s meagre resources could be channelled for national development. 4.4.3 Discussion of the Leadership Frame and the Failed Government Frame The following section will discuss the framing tools used to construct the Leadership Frame in the newspapers and the Failed Government Frame in the parliamentary corpus. These tools included the news value of personification in the Leadership Frame, and reducing the salience of the Failed Government Frame. 4.4.1.1 News Values in the Newspapers Frames A frame that reveals the strong influence of personification is the Leadership Frame. As noted above, it was presented by the BNL newspapers. It focused on the leadership of the new ruling elite, mainly President Bakili Muluzi, describing them negatively as unfit to rule the nation. Denis McQuail (2010) lists personification as one of the major news values of the western media. By this news value, events that can be discussed in terms of the actions of individual actors are more likely to be reported than those that are the outcome of abstract social forces. In this respect, it was relatively easy for the BNL newspapers to portray Muluzi as the reason for the disunity, lack of security and deteriorating economic conditions. The origin of these conditions may have been complex to explain to the readers but it was relatively easy as Gans (1979) argues to link them to a person – in this case, Bakili Muluzi, as the president. A concern about personification in the highly partisan press in Africa is what Bourgault (1997) describes as an odd mix of polemics and adulation for leaders. The

126 polemics masquerade as critical journalism and the adulation simply reflects the servile position and sycophancy of the press. The above fact was clear in the BNL newspapers‟ harsh criticism of the UDF-led government. President Muluzi did not receive any positive coverage at all in the editorials and opinion articles. His coverage in the BNL newspapers was overwhelming negative with 24 editorial pieces and opinion articles portraying him negatively. Only two portrayed him in neutral light. 4.3.1.2 De-emphasis Reducing salience, as a frame construction tool is revealed in the Failed Government Frame as in the Governance Frames above. Unlike the Governance Frame, the Failed Government Frame had no purpose other than to highlight the MCP‟s failings. The UDF MPs chose to look backward, using collective memory selectively, to highlight the failures of the MCP. They harshly criticised the MCP‟s governance and development record while arguing that they would do better. The Failed Government Frame was a victim of the AFORD‟s ambiguous position in the post-election period. While the AFORD MPs were not happy with the manner the MCP had governed the country in the past 31 years, their criticism was tempered by the fact that the AFORD was now in an alliance with the MCP. Thus few AFORD MPs chose to side with the UDF on this frame. This had the effect of lowering the volume of contributions to the frame. Further, the MCP/AFORD alliance applied the framing technique of subverting the impact of unfavourable or contradictory information (See Entman, 2004). In this respect, some AFORD/MCP MPs disagreed with the UDF that the MCP‟s reign over

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