April 12, 2013 16:13

Madonna brands Malawi Government criticism "ridiculous"

Singer says she is "saddened" by government statement accusing her of making VIP demands

Madonna brands Malawi Government criticism "ridiculous"

Photo: PA

Madonna has issued a statement saying she is "saddened" by a statement issued by the Government of Malawi yesterday, accusing her of making VIP demands during a recent trip to the impoverished country.

Responding also to claims by the country's president President Joyce Banda that she was using the fact that she adopted two children from the impoverished African country as "blackmail", Madonna replied (via Rolling Stone): "I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations. I came to Malawi seven years ago with honorable intentions. I returned earlier this month to view the new schools we built. I did not ever ask or demand special treatment at the airport or elsewhere during my visit. I will not be distracted or discouraged by other people's political agendas. I made a promise to the children of Malawi and I am keeping that promise."

She added: "I was very happy to visit with the children of Malawi earlier this month and to see with my own eyes the 10 new primary schools in Kasungu province that Raising Malawi and buildOn completed this past year," the pop star said in a statement, addressing the government's claims that she exaggerated her charitable work in the country.

As reported yesterday, Madonna visited Malawi last week to review the progress of her plan to build 10 community schools, and asked for an audience with the president in a handwritten note. The president responded in a statement which claimed Madonna wanted the government to "roll out a red carpet and blast the 21-gun salute in her honour", adding that it was "strange and depressing" that she appeared to want thanks for the fact that she adopted two Malawian children – David and Mercy. "Kindness, as far as its ordinary meaning is concerned, is free and anonymous," the statement read. "If it can't be free and silent, it is something else. Blackmail is the closest it becomes."

Malawi's State House rejected claims that the president had refused to see Madonna because she sacked her sister, Anjimile Mtila-Oponyo, as head of her charity in the country. "For her to accuse Mrs Oponyo for indiscretions that have clearly arisen from her personal frustrations that her ego has not been massaged by the state is uncouth, and speaks volumes of a musician who desperately thinks she must generate recognition by bullying state officials instead of playing decent music on the stage," the State House statement read.

Trevor Neilson, Madonna’s 'philanthropic adviser' and spokesman, said: "Madonna is the largest individual philanthropist in Malawi and we are a bit surprised that the president is using her office to pursue her sister’s financial interests," he said. "That said, we will continue to fund programmes that support children in Malawi, a country where millions of children suffer every day."

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