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

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

151 rooted in

151 rooted in traditional community values. In this respect, the individual is supposed to negotiate personal needs within the framework of community needs (Nussbaum, 2003, p.2; Bourgault, 1995, p.4-5). Unfortunately, in the context of the 1999 elections, the obvious problem could only be located in the electorate who had chosen to vote along regional and ethnic lines and had chosen violence as a means to express their frustration with the electoral process. This presented problems for editorial writers since that could shift the blame away from the easy villains - the politicians. One editorial writer noted: Malawians need to understand their responsibilities to their community. Committing violence against other Malawians goes against our values as a nation. What is worrying is that the regionalism that has only been spoken about as a mere threat to national unity by word of mouth, is now becoming a reality. (Malawi News, 1999a, p.2). Another writer in the Chronicle (1999b, p.1) noted: Malawians, we are a peaceful community. We should not succumb to frustration and violence. Stop harming your neighbours. Let us seek redress through the proper channels. The newspapers turned to the relevant age-old villains for blame attribution. For example, instead of blaming the nation for failing to observe its own values, the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle placed the blame on the UDF leadership, blaming them for lacking in unifying abilities (See Table 5.2) as one editorial (Chronicle, 1999a, p.1) noted: There are politicians who preach unity but they practice the contrary. Politicians continue to say inciting things and divide the country further. Malawi is one country and one people. Boundaries were made by our colonisers which continue to hound us. The issue is not improved when a

152 leader who has been declared a winner in an election then proceeds to lambast the loser to the point where, once again animosity becomes the order of the day. The writer of an editorial in the Daily Times (1999c, p.2) noted: “The UDF leaders are arrogant, and regard themselves as leaders of the UDF alone rather than the nation.” The NPL newspapers blamed the opposition leaders for encouraging the violence by refusing to accept the outcome of the elections (See Table 5.2). Such a way of viewing the problem could have led the NPL stable to argue that there was no unity problem in Malawi. The problem was with opposition politicians who refused to accept the outcome of the elections (See Table 5.2). In the end, the Unity Frame‟s problem definition and causal attribution failed to resonate with the traditional Malawian values of intense humanness, caring, sharing, respect, compassion and associated values which ensure a happy and quality community life. The very people (citizens) who were supposed to put into practice these values had disregarded them. The consequence was that subsequent frame components such as the moral evaluations and treatment recommendation were basically an agglomeration of half-hearted calls for national unity and dialogue, and condemnation of politicians. This did not address the larger problem of the electorate‟s preference of candidates from home. Further, it served to highlight the partisan nature of Malawi‟s press and its reflection of the political divisions existing in the country. 5.2.4.2 Resonant Problem Definition and Causal Attribution The Electoral Process Frame was suffused with morally judgemental words and images that arose directly and inevitably from the problem definition and causal analysis. Once the BNL stable and the Chronicle had identified the MEC as having intentionally

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