This paper draws on the advocacy coalition framework and uses content analysis to examine policy arguments and counterarguments over new legislation governing production, distribution and sale of alcohol in Malawi amidst growing concerns about alcohol-related public health problems and moral decay. We analyzed contents and claims reported in major newspapers (50 papers) and technical reports (2) spanning 2010-2013. Ironically, the findings of the study reveal the beverage industry in Malawi has proceeded by publicly endorsing the proposal for new legislation and openly backing the position of the pro-regulation coalition to restore sanity to the nation. At the same time, leading actors in the beverage industry have artfully deployed a mixture of economic and nationalistic sentiments and argumentative crossovers to deflect policy narratives of opponents advocating for tighter alcohol legislation and depicting themselves as an earnest partner in the policy-making process; retaining for themselves a measure of credibility on the alcohol policy-making platform. The paper concludes by underscoring the contingent nature of policy argumentation and the role played by economic and cultural factors in shaping policy processes in Malawi.

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Keywords advocacy coalition framework, alcohol, argumentative crossover, Malawi, policy
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Journal African Geographical Review
Mambulu, F.N. (Faith Nankasa), Mkandawire, P, Dixon, J. (Jenna), Mason, S. (Sarah), Rishworth, A. (Andrea), & Luginaah, I. (Isaac). (2015). Silence of the leaders: Alcohol policy-making in Malawi. African Geographical Review, 34(3), 232–249. doi:10.1080/19376812.2014.1003306