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

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

165 power were obliged

165 power were obliged to submit to their authority because the ultimate authority – God – had given Muluzi and his UDF their authority. 5.3.3.3 Summary The framing in the National Assembly was very self-congratulatory on the part of the UDF because the opposition, who would have challenged such frame construction, were boycotting parliament in protest at the conduct of the election. Thus, the two frames which emerged in the parliamentary corpus presented a rosy picture of the nation under the UDF. The frames drew heavily on religion and democratic values. Not only did the UDF claim exclusive rights over democratic values, they also reinforced that by portraying their victory at the polls as God-given. 5.4 1999: Continuing Partisan Journalism The following section attempts to put into context the type of journalism model followed by the different newspapers. Further, it attempts to demonstrate how the owners of the newspapers may have influenced the adoption of these models of journalism. 5.4.1 BNL Newspapers and the Chronicle: Defiant Opposition Journalism The Electoral Process Frame and the Consequences Frame were particularly critical of the government and the ruling. As noted earlier on, the Electoral Process Frame was highly critical of the roles played by the UDF and the MEC in the electoral mess revealed during both the campaign period and the immediate aftermath of the election. An examination of these frames reflects the extent at which the BNL newspapers spoke for the opposition.

166 For example, the first media report calling for the removal of the MEC was in a Daily Times (1999f) story quoting the MCP President Gwanda Chakuamba. The story appeared just 24 hours after the results of the elections were declared on 19 June. In that story, Chakuamba called for the removal of MEC chairman, James Kalaile and his commissioners calling the outcome “. . . a fraud and daylight theft.” (p.1). According to the analysis in the foregoing sections, this was a charge that was to be repeated by the BNL newspapers at least fourteen times over the period under study in varying forms (See Table 5.4). From this examination, it is clear that these newspapers were certainly sympathetic to the opposition. They tended to see things through the same glasses as the MCP and AFORD. The same applies to the Consequences Frame. The reference to the retributive firing of government employees was first made by Heatherwick Ntaba, the Publicity Secretary of the MCP, in which Ntaba charged that government was firing some senior civil servants for not being loyal to the ruling party. The remarks appeared in a news story in the Daily Times (1999i). The next day, the Malawi News (1999f) editorial carried references to that accusation alleging retribution against civil servants who refused to lend a helping hand to the UDF during the campaign period. This was a charge that was repeated at least five times by the BNL newspapers as evidenced in the discussion on frames in chapter five, Section 5.1 (See also Table 5.6). The Chronicle was also fierce in its criticism of the government and the UDF with journalism that attempted to give the appearance of national interest. However, the manner in which the newspaper tended to consistently criticise the UDF and the government puts the Chronicle firmly in the opposition camp. For example, the harsh criticism of the government‟s economic performance by the Chronicle did not provide

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