Electoral violence and it’s Instrumental Logic: Mapping Press Discourse on Electoral Violence during Parliamentary and Presidential Elections in Zimbabwe

Elections are one of the key benchmarks for assessing the international
perception of a nation’s democratic credentials. However, the credibility of
elections is increasingly being tied to questions of whether or not they are
conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. Where violence exists as part of the
menu of manipulation the press becomes a crucial tool for shaping public
perceptions about electoral legitimacy or lack thereof. This study employed
a Foucauldian discursive approach to the analysis of election violence in two
state-owned newspapers, namely The Herald and The Sunday Mail, and
three privately-owned newspapers, namely The Zimbabwe Independent, The
Financial Gazette, and the Daily News. Empirical data were drawn from
a corpus of news stories published during the 2000 parliamentary and the
2002 presidential elections. The article argues that press construction of
election violence was marked by competing discourses reflecting political
and ideological bifurcation and this gave way to anti-democratic discursive
strategies which could engender political intolerance among the citizenry.

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Categories: Journal of African Elections
journal of african elections vol16 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa