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

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

189 There were 31 and 39

189 There were 31 and 39 coded paragraphs in the newspapers and parliamentary Challenges Frames respectively. In the parliamentary frame, 14 paragraphs focused on the need for fiscal discipline. Fifteen paragraphs focused on fighting corruption as Justin Malewezi (2004a, p.8), former Vice-President under Muluzi, who was now an MP argued: “We have to arrest this corruption which has cost us K17 billion kwacha, a third of the national budget.” Other recommendations were more practical with calls for improvement in economic management, commercial farming and provision of farm inputs subsidies and rural microcredit schemes (See Table 6.9). 6.3.3 Discussion This section will examine the factors affecting the emergence of the frames exposed above. In the case of the Leadership Frames, multiple factors were at work including news values and metaphors. However, Mutharika‟s crafting of his economic agenda for the nation played a huge role in the favourable framing of his leadership abilities among the press and in the National Assembly. The Challenges Frames were also influenced by Mutharika‟s resonant economic agenda and news values. 6.3.3.1 News value in the Leadership Frame What explains the dominance of the Leadership? A combination of factors rooted in the journalistic news values of continuity, conflict and personalisation served to ensure that the question of leadership remained high on the agenda of the press in the newspapers corpus. The first reason can be located in continuity as a news value. By this news value, according to Galtung & Ruge (1965) a story that is already in the news gathers a kind of inertia. This is partly because the media organizations are already in place to report the story, and partly because previous reportage may have made the story more accessible

190 to the public (making it less ambiguous) (Galtung and Ruge, 1965). As Manda (2004) and Neale (2004) noted, Bingu wa Mutharika, as a presidential candidate for the UDF had received enormous coverage. However, that coverage tended to be negative. This was a fact which members of the press acknowledged in the post-election period. For example, Alfred Ntonga, the editor of the Nation, in an interview with Manda (2004) argued that the press gave Mutharika negative coverage because they wanted to find out who the real Mutharika was. The fact that former President Bakili Muluzi tended to dominate the UDF campaign rallies relegating Mutharika to a few minutes on the microphone only exacerbated the belief that Mutharika was a proxy. After the election, the press continued to focus its spotlight on Mutharika in an attempt to ascertain whether or not Mutharika was really a lackey of the former president. Further, the evident rift between Mutharika, on the one hand, and Muluzi and the UDF, on the other, ensured that the press stayed focused on the issue of leadership. The drama surrounding Mutharika‟s continued exposure of the Muluzi administration‟s fiscal indiscipline ensured continued coverage of both Mutharika and Muluzi. This rift between Mutharika and Muluzi was couched in terms of a leadership wrangle in which the former president was portrayed as attempting to impose his will on the new president. Thus, even as Mutharika was receiving positive assessments from the press regarding his stance against corruption the same newspapers were warning that Muluzi was: “the fly in the ointment”, and the “spanner in the works” for Mutharika which would limit his potential to succeed (Mwase, 2004, p.3). The second reason for the emergence of the Leadership Frame as a dominant frame can be traced to Mutharika‟s crafting of his post-elections agenda and how the press presented this as a demonstration of Mutharika‟s abilities. Further, Muluzi‟s inability to deal with corruption and the ailing economy when he was president was also presented

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