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

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

145 Another editorial

145 Another editorial writer in the same newspaper argued: The polls were rigged and the Electoral Commission was furnished with the evidence but it decided to ignore all that and went ahead to declare Bakili Muluzi as the winner. (Malawi News, 1999d, p.2). Thus, the MEC was portrayed as either incompetent to run elections or as having colluded with the UDF to defraud the electorate (See Table 5.4). The other aspect in this component related to President Muluzi and his UDF‟s manner of celebrating their victory. The newspapers, especially the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle, branded him as ungracious in his ill-gotten victory in three paragraphs (See Table 5.4), criticising the timing of a presidential rally to celebrate his victory (Chronicle, 1999c, p.1). By way of moral evaluations, in three paragraphs, the newspapers branded the MEC as lacking knowledge in the legal framework that enabled it to function even though its chairman was a justice of the High Court (Malawi News, 1999d, p.2). In another three paragraphs, the judiciary was branded as confused in relation to some of its rulings on the complaints regarding the election and for swearing Bakili Muluzi when, in fact, the election outcomes were being disputed (Malawi News, 1999d, p.2; Namingha, 1999, p.3) (See Table 5.4). Even as they expressed their dissatisfaction with the behaviour of the Judiciary, in treatment recommendations, the newspapers called on the opposition leaders to await arbitration from the High Court (See Table 5.4), as the Malawi News (1999d, p.2; 1999e, p.2) noted, the rule of law and good governance were at stake. More practically, in three paragraphs, the newspapers called for the firing of the MEC (Daily Times, 1999a, p.2). While awaiting arbitration, the newspapers called on non-partisan statesmen to mediate in order to stop the violence as the writer of an editorial in the Chronicle noted:

146 Who can speak a good word in season so that we defuse this untenable and nation destroying impasse? Come on, democrats, identify yourselves. (1999c, p.1) 5.2.2.2 The NPL Newspapers‟ response The NPL newspapers‟ contribution to the Electoral Process Frame was to side with the victorious UDF while at the same time excoriating the opposition parties for refusing to accept the outcome of the election. However, as noted earlier, the NPL stable joined the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle in condemning the MEC‟s handling of the election. The following discussion is based on six articles published in the NPL newspapers which yielded 12 coded paragraphs (See Table 5.1 and Table 5.5). In eight paragraphs, the NPL newspapers criticised those who had been defeated in the election for rejecting electoral outcomes (See Table 5.5). Of course, this assumption was anchored in the belief that the election, even though mismanaged, were generally a representation of the electorate‟s wishes. The Nation charged that the opposition leaders were simply following the example of many African politicians who refuse to accept defeat at the polls. As Norman Phiri (1999, p.8) writing in the Nation noted: “Africa‟s history is full of opposition leaders, who after refusing to accept poll results, resorted to fighting”. Proceeding from their problem definition, in four paragraphs, the newspapers identified the opposition leaders as bad losers and primarily responsible for the violence in the wake of the elections (Phiri, N. 1999, p.8). The newspapers charged that by refusing to accept the outcome the opposition leaders were fuelling the anger of their supporters resulting in the violence as D.D. Phiri (1999, p.8) argued in his column in the Nation:

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