Madonna is denying claims by the government of Malawi that she is exaggerating her charitable contributions to the southern African nation and that she demanded special VIP treatment during a visit to the country last week.
"I'm saddened that Malawi's President Joyce Band Malawian has chosen to release lies about what we've accomplished, my intentions, how I personally conducted myself while visiting Malawi and other untruths," the pop star said in a statement.
The country's president recently questioned Madonna's claims that she's built 10 schools in the country. "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.
Another statement issued by the president's office accused Madonna of trying to use her fame and money to persuade Malawi to give her special treatment. "Granted, Madonna is a famed international musician. But that does not impose an injunction of obligation on any government under whose territory Madonna finds herself, including Malawi, to give her state treatment," the statement said. "Such treatment, even if she deserved it, is discretionary not obligatory."
Madonna, 54, has been granted VIP treatment during previous visits, including during her last trip to the country on April 1. But airport officials told the Associated Press that the VIP status was stripped upon leaving Malawi, when she and her entourage were subjected to the same lines and security checks as ordinary passengers.
The statement also questioned Madonna's intentions behind her various humanitarian projects in Malawi -- which began in 2006 when she adopted her son David Banda -- and alleges that the singer "wants Malawi to be forever chained to the obligation of gratitude."
Madonna said the government criticism was prompted by her dismissal of President Banda's sister, Anjimile Oponyo, who formerly served as head of her humanitarian organization in Malawi, but was fired amid allegations that she mismanaged $3.8 million in charity funds.
"I was very happy to visit with the children of Malawi earlier this month and to see with my own eyes the ten new primary schools in Kasungu province that Raising Malawi and buildOn completed this past year," Madonna said in defense of her charity activities. "These schools are now educating more than 4,800 children with girls attending in equal numbers."
The singer also said she has no intention of changing her humanitarian involvement in the country despite the harsh government criticism. "I will continue to follow through on my commitment to help educate the children of Malawi. I have no intentions of being distracted by these ridiculous allegations."