Some Malawians have bashed Malawi’s Pres. Banda over a public spat with US pop queen Madonna over her status and school blocks her charity built in the southern African country
Pres. Joyce Banda, who issued a damning statement against Madonna, was reportedly angered by claims that she has built 10 schools in Malawi, and questioned that statement in widely quoted remarks last week.
“Where are the 10 schools she has built? She is just building school blocks at already existing schools. In some cases she just renovated an already existing block. This is an insult to the people of Malawi. She can’t be lying to the world at our expense,” Banda said.
On the other hand, Madonna, in a statement issued from Los Angeles in the United States, said she was “saddened” that Banda “has chosen to release lies about what we’ve accomplished, my intentions, how I personally conducted myself while visiting Malawi and other untruths. I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations.
Her well-oiled PR machine added: “I came to Malawi seven years ago with honourable 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.”
Malawians interviewed by the media are generally are on the side of the pop icon.
“The spat is unnecessary. We have the whole State House firing strong words against Madonna who is willing to help us,” Mike Chisale, a resident from the administrative capital Lilongwe, told MaraPost.
He says the saga could’ve been handled “diplomatically” by calling Madonna to a round-table to thrush out the misunderstandings because Malawi was dealing with an “individual and not a government.”
This, he thinks, would scare away “potential investors” to the impoverished southern African nation, because they will ask themselves: “If they can give problems to Madonna who just wants to help poor people, what more with me and my money.”
Rhoda Phiri, writing on her blog, said: “It’s embarrassing that a head of state can publicly fight with a pop star in the name of Madonna on a matter that can be discussed.”
Demobray Makhambera, also writing in his blog, says the fight is personal between Anjamile Oponyo and Madonna and the president needs “to keep her distance from this embarrassing fight. The president would not win this fight because her adoption of two children makes her a star.”
Oponyo is Pres. Banda’s younger sister who was head of Madonna’s Raising Malawi charity which was supposed to build a multi-million dollar school for talented girls. She was fired and Madonna later announced change of plans, saying she wanted to reach more children as opposed to building one expensive school.
Oponyo – she is now a senior official in the Ministry of Education – other employees sued Madonna for wrongful termination.
Madonna said the statement the animosity towards her had to do with her history with Oponyo.
Usi Moloko, a vendor hawking Chinese-made gadgets along the streets of Blantyre, told the media he’d heard on radio about the spat, and wondered why the President would want to “waste her precious time fighting with Madonna.”
“Let her do what she wants to do with her money here because we are a poor nation. If we weren’t poor and the monies were spent according to the needs of the poor, we wouldn’t need Madonna,” Moloko added.
The government of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, who suddenly died last year from a heart attack, allowed Madonna to use VIP facilities at airports and bankroll projects of her choice without government interference.
He often said he had no problem with the pop queen adopting children, saying there are over one million orphans who lack basic facilities such as food, shelter and education.