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

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

153 mismanaged the

153 mismanaged the election in order to give the UDF victory, the journey along the pathway to emotional and negative moral judgements was determined. In the end, as Entman (2004, p.32-33) argues, in cases such as the Electoral Process Frame, “problem definition, cause, and moral evaluation are completely intertwined and feasible remedies virtually predetermined.” The problem definitions and causal attributions in the Electoral Processes Frame were clear-cut. The BNL newspapers and the Chronicle clearly located these problem definitions and the causal interpretations in the MEC, and to a certain extent, the UDF. Jamieson (1999) argued: “. . . the problem associated with these elections can all be traced to an incompetent MEC.” Somanje (1999a, p.4) noted: “. . . the MEC need to admit that these elections were poorly managed.” The Daily Times (1999d, p.2) simply noted: “. . . the MEC have messed up these elections big time.” Even the NPL stable which tended to side with the UDF agreed with the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle that the MEC had to shoulder some, if not most of the blame, for mismanaging the election as Thomas Mwafongo (1999, p.8) noted: The Electoral Commission is itself to blame for any dissatisfaction expressed by the contenders in the process because it paid little attention if not none at all to issues which had a bearing of the law. It ought to be noted that the NPL stable attempted to subvert this framing of the problem definition by shifting the blame on to opposition politicians for refusing to accept the results of the elections at the same time blaming the MEC for mismanaging the elections. Further, the NPL newspapers subversion included downgrading the MEC‟s responsibility from malicious and intentional, as the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle charged, to a case of mere incompetence. As Entman (2004, p42) argues one way of diminishing the salience of issues presented in a frame is to subvert that

154 information with contradictory information. However, the NPL stable‟s subversion had to contend with the fact that the opposition leaders were not refusing to accept the outcome of a free and fair election. They were rejecting the outcome of an election that had been declared free but not fair by international observers. The problem definition and causal attribution opened the way to moral evaluations and treatment recommendations that attempted to show how the MEC‟s mismanagement was designed to give the UDF an unfair advantage in the elections as an editorial writer in the Malawi News (1999g, p.2) noted: Right from the registration exercise to the polling day everything was characterised by fraud designed to tilt the results in favour of the United Democratic Front. Even the national radio joined the bandwagon. The Chronicle (1999b, p.1) noted: “It (the electoral process) was all designed to give the UDF an unfair advantage.” Of course, the treatment recommendations were even more straightforward calling for the removal of the MEC especially its chairman, Justice James Kalaile (Daily Times, 1999d, p.1). In sum through problem definition and causal attribution, the editorial writers were able to shape moral evaluation and treatment recommendations in the Electoral Process Frame in a manner that was more resonant and powerful for the readers than they were able to do with the Unity Frame. The problem definitions and causal attributions enabled them to key into habitual moral democratic values of fairness in electoral contests in order to enable a proper winner to emerge. Further, by associating it with the incompetent MEC, the newspapers were able to disassociate the values of democracy from the UDF. 5.2.4.3 Magnitude and Emphasis

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