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

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

141 newspapers used a

141 newspapers used a series of intersecting arguments which coalesced into one call for positive action from the politicians especially the leaders of the three parties represented in parliament, the UDF, the AFORD, and the MCP. The BNL newspapers made six calls for national dialogue. The Chronicle joined in this call, informing its readers that the UDF victory was not exactly fair, therefore the least the UDF could do was to form a government of national unity with the MCP/AFORD alliance. Among other solutions, in four paragraphs, the newspapers called on all political players in the country to find ways of starting national dialogue. The leaders of civil society especially the Church were urged to fill the unifying void which the political leaders were unable to fill due to their partisan interests (Chronicle, 1999b, p.1). 5.2.1.2 The NPL Newspapers The NPL newspapers agreed with the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle that there was a problem of unity. However, rather than locate the problem in the national leadership in general, the NPL stable reflected their partiality for the UDF by exonerating the UDF of the problem. Instead, in eight paragraphs of their problem definition (see Table 5.3), the NPL stable laid the problem at the door of the opposition. The opposition were presented as bad losers who were unwilling to accept defeat and their role as a responsible opposition. In this respect, as causal agents, Mwafongo (1999, p.8) argued in his column that: “These party leaders . . . deliberately incite hatred amongst their followers.” The main narrative in the moral evaluation component called on the citizens and the political leaders in particular to be tolerant of each other (See Table 5.3). In a democratic society like Malawi, political tolerance was to be exercised without fail

142 otherwise the country would degenerate into civil strife as Mwafongo (1999, p.8) argued that: “What we need is love and tolerance. Violence and arrogance will not help us to build Malawi”. In six paragraphs, the NPL newspapers also labelled the opposition as bad losers who could not accept defeat even when the contest had been declared free by international poll monitors like the Commonwealth Observer Group and the African Union observers (See Table 5.3). The opposition were to accept defeat gracefully and take up their duties as an opposition with due seriousness. As one editorial writer in the Nation (22, June, 1999, p.4) argued: . . . the alliance did not come out clearly about accepting the results of the elections. . . . The only thing under the circumstances is for our leaders to bear their loss with grace and the winners to celebrate their victory with dignity. Table 5.3: The Unity Frame in the NPL newspapers Problem Definition Presenters Paragraphs Articles Opposition unwilling to accept defeat Moral Eval/Treatment Rec. NPL 8 (44.4%) 7 Political tolerance NPL 9 (23.7%) 7 The opposition are bad losers NPL 6 (15.8%) 6 Reject violence and punish all perpetrators NPL 5 (13.2%) 5 Total 28 (100%) 25 5.2.2 Electoral Process Frame The frame has a total of 51 paragraphs coded to it from 18 articles. Twelve of these articles were in the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle while 6 were in the NPL newspapers. The Problem Definition component has 20 paragraphs of which six were common to all the newspapers. The Causal Interpretation had eight paragraphs while the

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