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

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

221 only emerge out of

221 only emerge out of partisan newspapers such as BNL newspapers which focussed on the negatives of their political rivals. 7.1.3 Recurring Frames The next generalisation is a corollary to the above. Given certain conditions and depending on the owners and/or those owners alignment to centres of political power, some frames can recur from time to time. Basically, this principle or generalisation is based on the fact that some conditions are similar across post election milieu. Because of that, some frames which are similar to others across different post election periods will emerge. The frames discussed in this group are labelled as recurring frames because they tended to appear in more than one case study. The most recurring frame was the Leadership Frame which was detected four times in all the three case studies. The Unity Frame appeared three times in two different case studies. The Electoral Process Frame appeared in the newspapers corpora of the 1999 and 2004 case studies. The last recurring frame is the Failed Government Frame which appeared in the parliamentary corpora of the 1994 and 2004 case studies (See Table 7.1). The explanations for these recurrences vary from frame to frame and case study to case study. For example, the manifest regional polarisations evident in the 1994 and 1999 case studies can be the real reasons why the Unity Frame appeared in both case studies. The violence which was a feature of the 1999 post election period only ensured that there was an added urgency to it. However, similar conditions existed in the 2004 case study. There was regional polarisation as a result of the citizens voting patterns just as in the 1994 and 1999 case studies. Further, just as in the 1999 case study, the election had been mismanaged and the announcement was followed by rioting in the largest

222 commercial city of Blantyre for a few hours. However, in the 2004 case study the Unity Frame did not emerge in both corpora. In this respect, a more credible explanation may be found in the agenda of the political parties and the status of the press. As already noted, in the context of the 1994 case study, it was the agenda of the MCP/AFORD alliance to force the UDF into a government of national unity on the basis of a threat to national unity, real or perceived. Further, the BNL newspapers were essentially mouthpieces of the MCP. In this respect they carried the agenda of the MCP which included hyping up the issue of national unity. In the 1999 case study, the violence accompanying the announcement of the electoral outcome left the press without much choice but to extensively examine Malawi‟s national cohesion. In 2004, it would appear that all the parties were united in agreeing with Mutharika‟s post election agenda to deal with corruption, fiscal malfeasance and resurrect the ailing economy. This unity of purpose seemed to over- shadow the question of national unity. Besides, any angst left over from the election outcome was expressed by the press through the Electoral Process Frame. The recurrence of the Leadership Frame is easier to explain than the Unity Frame. In the newspapers corpora, the Leadership Frame first appeared in 1994 and recurred in 2004. Both case studies marked the change over from one president to another. It is, thus, only fair that a close examination of the leadership status in the country could have been encouraged. In both 1994 and 2004, the press tended to look backward at the departing president negatively while looking forward to the new president with hope. The same can be noted for the 2004 Leadership Frame in the National Assembly. The 1999 parliamentary Leadership Frame was nothing more than hero worship on the part of the UDF in the absence of the opposition in parliament. It offers no other significant lesson for political communication in Malawi except to highlight the fact that in

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