A critical discourse analysis of the parliamentary debates on the lifting of the immunity of the fourth Republican President of Zambia in 2013
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This study examined the discoursal features of the parliamentary debate session of 15th March 2013 in which the immunity of the Fourth Republican President of Zambia was lifted, in order to establish the ideological implications of these features. The study was guided by the critical discourse analysis theory, which is an ensemble of techniques for the study of textual practices and language use as social and cultural practices. The data were collected by employing a purposeful sampling technique to select the debate session of 15th March, 2013. The recordings of this debate session, which were transcribed verbatim, constituted the sample for the study. Since the study is purely qualitative, it solely relied on document analysis by identifying themes which emerged from the debate session. The analysis was done by first identifying the linguistic items present in the arguments used by members of parliament during debate session. Then the implications of these linguistic items were identified, and finally these implications were used to establish the ideological dimensions of Zambian politics. The study further makes use of Fairclough’s model and van Djik’s framework in its analysis. The results of the study indicate that the rhetorical structure of the arguments of the parliamentary debates follows a particular sequence and that the discourse of individual members of parliament is reasonable as well as persuasive. Besides, the idea of the relationship between the discursive event and discursive structure was established. The immunity lifting, which is the discursive event shaped the debate session, the discursive structure. The overall theme of the debate session which is ‘respect for the rule of law, good governance and service to the people’, calls for those serving in public offices to possess and uphold certain values which include honesty, integrity, accountability, and patriotism. The study further revealed that this particular parliamentary debate was characterised by discursive polarisation in which members of parliament presented a world-view of ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’, where ‘Us’ positive self-presentation was juxtaposed with a negative presentation of ‘Them’ thereby creating in-groups and out-groups. Furthermore, the study demonstrated the debate was characterised by unequal power relations with the members of the ruling party enjoying more freedom than those of the Opposition.