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

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

193 could only have

193 could only have received salience and drawn much attention from the press. The Malawian press fell into the trap of oversimplification of conflict by classifying this conflict into the two extremes of good or bad, inferior or superior. 6.3.3.2 Metaphors as Framing Tools in the Leadership Frame Apart from earning him political capital with the press, Mutharika‟s crafting of his economic agenda also earned him capital with opposition MPs. His favourable standing with the National Assembly was evident among all MPs from all political parties who contributed to the debate in the National Assembly. This is evident in the nature of the Leadership Frame which emerged from the parliamentary corpus. It did not have problem definitions or causal attributions. It was simply suffused with positive moral evaluations of the new president. This description of the new president drew on culturally resonant metaphors and exemplar which portrayed Mutharika as the right leader at a time of economic crisis. The leading metaphor or exemplar was of Mutharika as a visionary. There were seventeen coded instances in sixteen different speeches in which he was described as a visionary by MPs from across the political parties represented in the National Assembly (See Table 6.5). Malenga (2004, p.1) noted: “. . . I would like to applaud the State President for his visionary economic leadership . . .” Chathunya (2004, p.39) also argued: “. . . we don't need a Barometer to measure Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika, he is a man of vision, fountain of Hope . . . ” Berson, Shamir, Avolio & Popper (2001, p.53-54) argue that exemplary or outstanding leaders are typically described by their followers as being inspirational and visionary and that charismatic/transformational leadership appears to take vision as a given in terms of being a component leader that motivates people to higher levels of

194 effort and performance. Further, visions can distinguish the new direction to be pursued from the old and mobilize people to action for the future (Gailbraith & Lawler, 1993). It is, therefore, not surprising that in attempting to close the chapter on the UDF reign since 1994, which was now generally seen as a disaster, the MPs lauded Mutharika‟s agenda as appropriate for Malawi while ascribing vision and foresight to him. In contrast, the former administration of President Bakili Muluzi was labelled as arrogant and lacking in vision. For example, regarding the last five years of UDF rule, Aleke Banda (2004, p.26) observed: “We became arrogant, we were not serious. We forgot that we were here to serve the people of Malawi. We lost our vision.” The MCP MP, George Zulu (2004) noted of the UDF administration under Muluzi: “Arrogant, stubborn, deaf and without vision is the only way I can describe the last UDF administration (Noise!)”. Another metaphor or exemplar was of Mutharika as a God-given leader. As noted above, UDF MPs portrayed him as such three times on the National Assembly floor as Nthenda (2004, p.8) noted: “Malawians are appreciating that Dr. Mutharika is a God given leader for this country. (Applause)” The divine right to leadership conferred by this metaphor served the purpose of re- assuring Malawians that Mutharika would rule within the acceptable norms of a religious people. Considering the contested nature of his presidency, this claim to divine appointment served the purpose of not only legitimating a president who came to power with only 35.1% of the votes cast, but also validating whatever policies he intended to put into effect. The fact that Mutharika was proving popular, at least with the press and the National Assembly, meant that this claim to God-given leadership went unchallenged.

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