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

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

167 any solutions to the

167 any solutions to the problem except to proclaim that ordinary Malawians were to blame for voting for the UDF. The stance taken by the BNL newspapers against the UDF must be viewed in the context of the stable‟s ownership. It is only to be expected that the BNL newspapers would be highly partial to the MCP‟s political position and biased against the UDF. It should, therefore, be of no surprise that the BNL newspapers took this obviously biased position. 5.4.2 The NPL Newspapers: Government Journalism The analysis in the preceding sections reveals the NPL newspapers‟ continuing association with the UDF. The NPL stable‟s consistent criticism of the opposition and unquestioning siding with the UDF and the government clearly places it in the government journalism model. The NPL stable‟s stance in the Unity Frame is an important place to begin in ascertaining the above assertion. In that frame, the NPL newspapers consistently named the opposition leaders for being responsible for the post election violence. The newspapers consistently called on the opposition leaders to accept the outcome of an obviously flawed electoral process. In fact, the owner of the NPL newspapers, Aleke Banda (1999a & 1999b), gave his newspapers the lead in one of his articles published in two parts on 4 July and 11 July. In those articles, Banda urged the opposition to take the example of the late Kamuzu Banda who had accepted the outcome of the 1994 without question. For the next weeks, the editorial writers at the Nation took this up and repeated the accusation 14 times in different editorials and opinion pieces. In this manner, the NPL newspapers placed the burden of ending the violence on the opposition (See Table 5.3).

168 However, the NPL newspapers did not offer pro-government/UDF frames except to offer counterarguments against the MCP/AFORD alliance‟s and the BNL stable‟s framing. The newspapers did not show much interest in commenting on the curtailed National Assembly session either. In essence, the newspapers seemed to have taken a slight disinterest in the political happenings of the post-election period except to rebut the opposition political position. Ephraim Munthali, the Lilongwe Bureau Sub-Editor noted in an interview: It was not a stand-offish position as you put it. . . . The opposition politicians were not engaging the government on the issues . . . and AKB (Aleke Kadonaphani Banda), to give him credit does not interfere with what we do (Mchakulu, 2004, p.18). In other words, the NPL had nothing to tell the nation because the politicians were not discussing the real issues. Of course, the question of Aleke Banda not interfering in the editorial direction may have been overstated as demonstrated in the foregoing paragraphs. 5.4.3 Summary This chapter has proved that the NPL newspapers continued to tilt towards the UDF and the government. Indeed, Patel (2000) observed that the NPL newspapers made noticeable shifts away from neutrality when it came to covering the UDF by providing the party and the government favourable editorial commentary based on highly speculative narratives. The BNL newspapers remained beholden to the MCP even in the face of pressure from the government and the UDF. Thus, the same uncritical parroting of the MCP position observed in the 1994 post-election period for the BNL newspapers remained true in the 1999 post-election period.

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