Anticipated contribution of the study to the discipline of Communication

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This chapter presents the analysis of the frames employed by The Herald in the coverage of the expulsion of Joice Mujuru from ZANU PF. The chapter also assesses whether or not the framing employed tabloid news reporting techniques such as sensationalism, subjectivity, voyeurisms, trivialisation among others. This chapter evaluates the nature and consequences of using tabloid techniques such as sensationalism and trivialisation in the coverage of serious political issues in the country.
An analysis of The Herald articles from October 2014 to January 2017 reveals that the following frames; putschists cabal, traitor/economic saboteur, incompetent leader/simpleton, corrupt, false war legend, regime change agent and the greedy and cruel stepmother frame are given salience. The framing analysis in this chapter will borrow from the critical works of (Goffman 1974, Entman 1993, Butler 2009) who argue that framing is possible through the use of devices such as word choice, metaphors, exemplars, descriptions, arguments and visual images to deal with justifications, causes and consequences. To complicate my analysis, it shall also be demonstrated that these frames are not entirely confined to a single story but they intersect and overlap in individual stories and reinforced each other.

Putschists cabal frame

The Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current English Oxford (2010) defines a “Putsch” as “a sudden attempt to remove a government by force” and a cabal as “a group of people who are involved in secret plans to get political power”. The putschists cabal frame is derived from the depiction of Joice Mujuru as a leader of a putschist’s cabal which wanted to topple President Mugabe from power through a co-rodinated assassination plot and install Mujuru as the next leader. The putschists cabal framing is based on the activities of people described as Mujuru’s closest allies who are depicted by The Herald as the masterminds behind the assassination attempts on President Mugabe. These close allies are identified as ZANU PF politburo members Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa and Nicholas Goche who are the core members of the putschists cabal. To elaborate on this frame two front page stories entitled Step down, war vets tell Mujuru and …Mutasa also, say analysts 17/11/14 will be analysed.

Words and symbols

In the story above, war veterans urge Vice President Joice Mujuru to consider resigning due to the fact that she is facing allegations of trying to topple President Mugabe through the activities of her allies Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa and Nicholas Goche. Mujuru is described as the enemy of the revolution in that President Mugabe is a lone soldier surrounded by “counter revolutionaries, who sponsor rebellion in the country and bribing politicians”. The phrase above implies that Mujuru is a devious deputy to the president who wants to derail or destroy the ideals of the revolution which ZANU PF symbolises. She is portrayed as someone who is corrupt and sponsoring rebellion. As such the message is that the President is better off without an unfaithful deputy and Mujuru should be ejected or is unfit to be in the position of a vice president.
The use of particular words in news stories affects how meaning is created (Kress and Leewen 1996). It therefore follows that how something is said affects how people understand it. The selection of certain words communicates certain issues and can lend readers to have a differential understanding of the issue. Words used in stories are key in the construction of frames because they are critical in the making of a frame since a frame specifies the relationship between several connected elements in a text. Words are critical because a message contains two elements which provide, firstly the specific content and, secondly, how the message should be interpreted (Bateson 1972).
In the story Step down, war vets tell Mujuru, Mujuru is depicted as a power-hungry person who wants to take over as she is said to have said that President Mugabe would be “90 and God might call him.” The putschists frame is also brought in the other story on the same page ….Mutasa also, say analysts where it urges for Mutasa to be fired from both the party and government because as the minister responsible for Presidential Affairs his moral blameworthiness is very high because he exercises oversight on State Security. Mutasa is alleged to have hatched a plot to assassinate President Mugabe and this is allegedly revealed by one of his lovers; “if President Mugabe blocks the ascendancy of Vice President to the Presidency at the ZANU PF Congress then he will be shot”.
Mutasa is also alleged to have said to be ready to show Mugabe that he did not have support, failure of which he will be forcibly taken out; “this time we (the Mujuru faction) are ready to show Mugabe at Congress that he has no support. So if he refuses to listen to us, we will take him out”. Another Mujuru ally, Rugare Gumbo, is also alleged to have been recorded making the assassination threats by saying “kana (President) Mugabe akaramba achipusha Mujuru out tichamubvisa sezvakaitwa (Laurent) Kabila” (If President Mugabe continues to push Mujuru out, we will remove him Kabila style). DRC’s President Laurent Kabila was killed by a member of his security team in January 2001. The story also links another Mujuru ally, Nicholas Goche, who is alleged to have made “contingencies for such a scenario (of assassinating President Mugabe) during recent meetings with potential hit-men in South Africa and Israel”.
The connection of the putschists plot is made by the use of a South African based political scientist Hamilton Ruwodo who said that “there is a very clear connection between the treasonous statements made by Didymus Mutasa and Rugare Gumbo. By saying that they were planning to take out the president by shooting him, Mutasa was indicating what the Mujuru faction was planning to do to oust the President”. The net effect of the use of the statements from people described as Vice President Mujuru’s allies who are all saying that the President must pave way for her or he will be eliminated is meant to show that indeed she was planning to take over power and thus is a leader of a putschist cabal.

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 Preferred meanings

The intention of the two front page stories entitled Step down, war vets tell Mujuru and …Mutasa also, say analysts 17/11/14 was to depict Mujuru as a leader of a group of people who wanted to topple the President so that she can take over as the leader of the party and government.
By linking Mujuru with people such as Rugare Gumbo, who had been suspended for making treasonous statements, and Mutasa who oversees the State Security apparatus and presidential affairs also plotting to assassinate President Mugabe, is meant to make readers see the gravity of the plot. The linking of plans by Nicholas Goche to hire hit-men from South Africa and Israel with the utterances by Gumbo and Mutasa also makes it clear that if these are close allies of Mujuru then she is guilty as charged and thus should be fired.
As President Mugabe is the symbol of the party and country, anyone who fights him naturally becomes an enemy of the party. This is meant to mobilise hatred for Mujuru and prepare for her dismissal and the calls by the war veterans, who are considered to be a respectable voice in national affairs, is significant. Through the selective use of analysts who butress the seriousness of the assassination plots, The Herald seeks to potray Mujuru as guilty in the eyes of ZANU PF supporters and its readers.
A news or any kind of a newspaper story contains a certain preferred meaning or reading consciously encoded by the media institution on how the story should be interpreted. The import of the preferred meaning is made through the use of framing devises such as word choices, metaphors, exemplars, descriptions, arguments and visual images to deal with justifications, causes and consequences (Goffman 1974).

Omission analysis

The two stories Step down, war vets tell Mujuru and …Mutasa also, say analysts 17/11/14 made serious omissions in that they never really made an attempt to reveal the reasons for the plots to assassinate the President or to question the authenticity of the allegations or the reason why in light of the seriousness of the charges, especially with respect to treason as no arrests were made. The stories also omitted to tell readers whether all these allegations could have been due to lack of a clear succession plan which could naturally lead to deputies also looking at the possibilities of taking over.
Another aspect that The Herald omitted was that there is nothing criminal in any member of a political party seeking higher political office and in this case The Herald was guilty of not reading into the internal democracy within the party. Furthermore, The Herald sought to dwell more on the activities of the Mujuru faction without discussing the other factions which are believed to be led by Emerson Mnangagwa and the G40 faction. The opinions expressed in the story Step down, war vets tell Mujuru 17/11/14 are based on the views of the leadership led by Christopher Mutsvangwa whose animosity against Mujuru is on public record.
Another aspect omitted by the story is that the views of the war veterans under the Mutsvangwa-led Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association ( ZNWVA) are portrayed as representing all war veterans is debatable. Not all war veterans are in the association and agree with the notion of one centre of power. The framing also ignores the fact that Mujuru is a war veteran whose views should also be taken aboard. Also by showing the readers the allies of Mujuru, The Herald did not reveal the allies for the other faction and did not try to give a clear reason for trying to separate Mujuru from party and government colleagues since these people reported to her as their superior. In fact every member of the party was expected to be close to Mujuru as their leader and trying to criminalise the relationship and classifying others as close to her shows lack of critical analysis and deliberate omission for sinister motives.
In any frame certain information may be deliberately excluded or omitted when certain frames are emphasised in order to arrive at certain meanings. The potential effects of frames are also determined not only by what they include but also by what they exclude (Entman 1993). Such omissions are in sync with the concept of framing since a frame is a central organising idea that supplies a context and suggests what the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion and elaboration (Tankard, Hendrickson, Silverman, Bliss and Ghanem 1991).


1.0 Background to the study
1.1 Purpose of the study
1.2 The expulsion of Joice Mujuru from ZANU PF and Government
1.3 Relevance of the topic
1.4 Relationship of the topic to the discipline of Communication
1.5 Broadsheet newspaper journalism
1.6 Tabloid journalism
1.7 Objectives of the study
1.8 Formulation of the research problem
1.9 Methodology
1.10 Importance of the study
1.11 Anticipated contribution of the study to the discipline of Communication
1.12 Organisation of the study
1.13 Conclusion
2.0 Introduction
2.1 Theoretical perspectives
2.2 Unpacking tabloidisation
2.3 What are the real causes of tabloidisation?
2.4 Tabloidisation : The American experience
2.5 Critique of the American tabloidisation experience
2.6 Is tabloidisation “dumping down” or “reaching out”?
2.7 Tabloidisation indicators
2.8 Reviews of studies on tabloidisation on the African context
2.9 Studies on the Zimbabwean media scene
2.10 Media credibility
2.11 Polarisation, perception and interference
2.12 The effects of polarisation on journalism standards
2.13 Interference in media production
2.14 Media corruption
2.15 The IMPI report and the tabloidisation of the media
2.16 Conclusion
3.0 Introduction
3.1 Qualitative methodology
3.2 Research design
3.3 Qualitative content analysis
3.4 In-depth interviews
3.5 Data collection methods
3.6 Purposive sampling
3.7 Sample size
3.8 Unit of analysis
3.9 Data interpretation and analysis
3.10 Coding
3.11 Validity
3.12 Ethical considerations
3.13 Conclusion
4.0 Introduction
4.1 Putschists Cabal Frame
4.2 Traitor/Economic Saboteur Frame
4.3 Incompetent leader/Simplistic frame
4.4 The Corrupt Frame
4.5 The False War Legend Frame
4.6 Regime Change Agent Frame
4.7 Greedy and Cruel Stepmother Frame
4.8 Implications of The Herald framing of Joice Mujuru
4.9 Negative framing of Joice Mujuru by The Herald
4.10 Conclusion
5.0 Introduction
5.1 Sympathetic Frame
5.2 Victim Frame
5.3 Brave and Shrewd leader frame
5.4 Mature Leader Frame
5.5 Counter Framing
5.6 Grand Coalition Frame
5.7 Implications of the Daily News framing of Joice Mujuru
5.8 Conclusion
6.0 Introduction
6.1 Moderate Leader Frame
6.2 Sympathetic Frame
6.3 Victim Frame
6.4 Implications of the framing of Joice Mujuru by NewsDay
6. 5 Exceptions to tabloidised reporting by NewsDay
6.6 Conclusion
7.0 Introduction
7.1 Research Findings
7.2 Conclusions on the tabloidisation of news in Zimbabwe
7.3 Recommendations

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