13 Tembo, drew most of his support from the Central Region where he managed 64% of the vote. He got only 3% in the Northern Region and 2% in the Southern Region. The MCP emerged as the largest party in the new parliament with 59 seats representing 30.5% of the total seats in the National Assembly. The UDF had 49 seats representing 25.3% of the total. The Mgwirizano Coalitions had 27 seats representing 13.9% of the total and 38 seats were taken by independent candidates representing 19.6% of the total. Other political parties took 14 seats representing 7.2% of the total. It is important to note that these elections marked the beginning of the demise of the AFORD as a major party in Malawi. It only managed one seat in the new parliament. Given this chaotic background during the campaign period and run-up to the general election, it was not surprising that the election outcome was disputed. This is particularly true of the presidential race. There were riots in the largest commercial city, Blantyre in the Southern Region, and the city of Mzuzu in the Northern Region. The main opposition parties challenged the outcome in the High Court. The above factors shaped the discourse on political issues in the post-2004 election. The economy was in ruins due to years of fiscal indiscipline and corruption. There was a food crisis looming due to a drought. The ill-will generated by the perceived poor management of the election only seemed to exacerbate the political situation. Further, the perceived notion that the new president was a political puppet of the former president, Bakili Muluzi, meant that he could not expect much respect from parliament. 1.3 Research Questions The preceding sections have set out the political-historical context of the study. Further, it has identified gaps in present literature on the media‟s role in a multiparty
14 Malawi, and how this study will fill these gaps. In view of the preceding discussion, the research study attempts to answer the following related research questions: Research Question One: What were the similarities and differences in newspapers editorials and parliamentary speeches framing of political issues in the period immediately following the 1994, 1999, and 2004 general elections? Research Question Two: Based on the analysis in Question One above, is there evidence suggesting that changes in newspapers‟ ownership and its alignment to political parties result in changes in the nature of framing in editorials across the case studies? With respect to Question One, the study will attempt to address the issue of whether or not newspapers have attained the much desired level of critical independent journalism reflecting the national interest rather than narrow political ambitions of the newspapers‟ owners (Chimombo and Chimombo, 1996, p.25-33; Chimombo and Chimombo, 1996, p. 61-74; Chipangula, 2004; Patel, 2000). The question will attempt to establish whether or not newspapers act as an arena where popular political will is shaped, to paraphrase Dahlgren and Sparks (1991, p.2). To establish that aspect, a comparative approach is taken in which editorial frames are compared to parliamentary framing where framing is shaped by political party affiliation. With respect to Question Two, the study will attempt to establish the evolution of frames over the ten years covered by the case studies. In doing this, the frames detected in the analysis for Question One will be examined against the backdrop of changing newspapers‟ ownership and its alignment to political parties represented in parliament over the ten years period. This is in view of the historical position of the press in Malawi as will be discussed in the literature review chapter.