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

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

209 contesting party

209 contesting party (See Commonwealth Observer Group, 2004, p.40; Rakner and Svasand, 2006, p.7; Khembo & Mcheka, 2004, p.45) This assessment by the election observers was something media scholars of the 2004 election noted as well. Neale (2004, p.184) noted that even though the main newspapers tended to be negative against Bingu wa Mutharika and the UDF, they were reasonably fair to all parties and presidential candidates. Manda (2004, p.174) noted that newspapers “covered the election of 2004 in the interest of the Malawian people.” Manda also noted that the UDF and Mutharika received more negative coverage than the other parties even though it was unlikely to have negatively affected the party‟s chances. Going into the post-election period, could readers of the newspapers understudy expect the same fair coverage? This study has noted that the newspapers framing of Mutharika and his government was generally negative as the nation entered the post- election period. A general examination of the Leadership Frame reveals how the newspapers progressively revised the negative coverage to positive assessment while vilifying the UDF for attempting to influence the president. The Challenges Frame continued this negative tone against the UDF, branding outgoing president Muluzi and his administration as incompetent and corrupt compared to the new president who was cleaning up things. 6.5.2 Influence on Parliamentary Frames Unlike in the 1999 and 1994 case studies in which the parliamentary or political discourse influenced newspapers frames, the 2004 case study established a reverse trend. There is evidence suggesting that the MPs may have taken a cue from the newspapers commentary.

210 For example, one of the main strands in the Moral Evaluation component of the Leadership Frame in the parliamentary corpus is a declaration that Mutharika was a competent leader (See Table 6.5). The first mention of Mutharika‟s competence appeared in an editorial in the Weekend Nation (2004c, p.2) on 26 June in which the writer noted that: “Mutharika is proving to be a competent leader who has the interests of the Malawian people at heart.” (p.2). In the National Assembly, the first mention of this aspect was by the Leader of Government Business in the House, Dr. Ken Lipenga (2004, p.50), on 31 August when he quoted this editorial on the National Assembly floor verbatim as evidence of the news media‟s endorsement of the new president. Following this, MPs on both sides of the aisle described Mutharika as competent and capable six times (See Table 6.5). Another example of the news media taking first instance in framing an issue has to do with the issue of corruption (See Table 6.6). On 16 June 2004, Khunga (2004, p.6) argued in his column: . . . corruption is rife in the country. Even the civil service have taken to this practice. The UDF did nothing to put an end to this evil practice. (p. 2) On 2 September, in the National Assembly, the spokesman of the PPM, Mark Katsonga Phiri (2004, p.51), in his response to President Mutharika‟s opening address quoted this editorial verbatim. This was the first mention of the endemic nature of corruption in the civil service and how the UDF-led government had failed to stop it in the past ten years (See Table 6.7). While they were able to influence parliament in this way, the newspapers appeared unprepared to take any cues from parliament. 6.5.3 Journalism in the National Interest

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