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

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

173 Gwanda Chakuamba,

173 Gwanda Chakuamba, which had 15 seats. Another new party was the People‟s Progressive Movement (PPM) led by Aleke Banda (proprietor of the NPL newspapers) which won 6 seats in parliament. The Movement for Genuine Democracy (MGODE), an AFORD splinter group, won three seats. Two other new parties, the People‟s Transformation Party (PETRA) and the Congress for National Unity (CONU) won one seat each. Further, the number of Independent MPs rose from four in the 1999 parliament to 40 in the 2004 elections. The presence of the new parties and the rise of the independents represented losses for the UDF, the MCP and the AFORD who had been the perennial power brokers since 1994. The UDF MPs were reduced from 99 in the 1999 parliament to 49 in the 2004 parliament. The MCP MPs were reduced from 66 in the 1999 parliament to 57 in the 2004 parliament. The AFORD suffered the greatest loss of the three major parties with a reduction from 29 in the 1999 parliament to only six in the 2004 parliament. Even though the MCP suffered such reductions, this reconfiguration of the National Assembly meant that it emerged as the majority party. It was also able to consolidate this by re-aligning with the new parties. 6.1.2 The Newspapers Landscape in 2004 There had been one major change in the ownership of newspapers. The extended family of the late Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda had reached an out of court agreement with the other beneficiaries of the late dictator‟s will. In essence, the family trust gained control of Blantyre Print and Publishing Company and all its subsidiaries including the Blantyre Newspapers Ltd. The family also severed all political ties. This, in turn, meant that after many years of affiliation with the MCP and three years of seeming UDF control, the BNL newspapers were at last independent.

174 Apart from the change of political affiliation at the BNL newspapers, the NPL newspapers also went through changes in political affiliation. In the run-up to the 2004 elections, the NPL‟s proprietor, Aleke Banda, left the UDF and formed his own political party, the People‟s Progressive Movement (PPM). He was the running mate of the Mgwirizano Coalition‟s presidential candidate in the 2004 election. Shortly after the election, he retired from politics. Basically, this meant that ties the UDF enjoyed with the NPL newspapers were severed. However, the NPL stable continued to enjoy a reputation of being fair and balanced among media scholars (See Neale, 2004; and Manda, 2004). Ownership at the Chronicle did not change. Rob Jamieson was not associated with any political party during the run-up to the 2004 election or immediately after. However, his stance as an activist in matters of freedom of expression and freedom of the press put him at odds with the ruling UDF. The run up to the 2004 elections was characterised by systematic violence against the opposition, the press and civil society. This violence was largely perpetrated by the youth wing of the UDF, known as the Young Democrats (See Muula & Chanika, 2004 for a fuller discussion). It was only to be expected that the Chronicle would carry a strong anti-UDF editorial line. Thus, in the run-up to the May 2004 elections, all the newspapers in this study were relatively free of political influence in varying degrees. While the BNL newspapers and the Chronicle appeared totally free of political influence, the NPL newspapers may have felt some pressure to be kind to the Mgwirizano Coalition. After all, the proprietor, Aleke Banda, was the Coalition‟s running mate. 6.2 Overview of the Frames

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