Government officials in Malawi are feuding over who should travel to Britain to monitor U.S. pop star Madonna's adoption of a Malawian child.
A newspaper in Blantyre, Malawi suggests the bureaucratic dispute could obstruct the legal process necessary before Madonna's adoption of two-year-old David Banda becomes final next year.
The Sunday Times reports that a Cabinet minister who supervises adoptions has barred a social worker from traveling to London to investigate whether Madonna and her husband, British screenwriter and director Guy Ritchie are suitable adoptive parents, as required by Malawian law.
Madonna began adoption proceedings and picked up the boy from an orphanage last October, but Malawian child-avocacy and human rights groups are trying to block final action on the adoption.
Adoption in Malawi does not become permanent until a judicial review after 18 months. The rights groups are asking the court in this case to withhold final approval on the grounds that Malawian law does not permit international adoptions.
Malawi's minister of women and child development, Kate Kainja, says she barred social worker Penson Kilembe from traveling to Britain in the interests of efficiency and economy. The Sunday Times reports she supports the adoption, but intends to have another Malawian social worker who is already in Britain, attending university courses, monitor Madonna's suitability as a parent.
Kainja also complained that Kilembe tried to circumvent her travel ban by approaching Madonna directly, asking her to pay for his travel costs and living expenses in London.
Kilembe says he is the child's court-appointed guardian and the only person who can perform the monitoring necessary under Malawian law.
Madonna left Malawi last October with David, whose father placed him in an orphanage after the child's mother died.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.