Madagascar’s Education minister, Rijasoa Andriamanana has been sacked after announcing her plans to buy sweets worth $2.2 million for students to relieve them of the sour taste after drinking a coronavirus concoction.
She made this revelation at a press briefing where she stated that the purchase of the candy was to dull the bitter aftertaste of the COVID-Organics herbal tea, a highly promoted drug in the nation, despite its ineffectiveness cited by experts.
Apparently, the benefits of the herbal tea, COVID-Organics although not scientifically validated as anything remotely close to being the cure for the virus, is being heavily promoted for export by Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina. This emboldened Andriamanana in saying it is the country’s “green gold” which will “change history”.
Minister Andriamanana sweet-talked the press by saying, “a purchase of sweets and lollipops” had been made with all students in the Indian Ocean Island nation to receive three each.
For a country like Madagascar which is among the poorest countries in the world with 75% of the population living on less than $ 1.90 per day, the desire of the minister to go on a candy-spree was highly misplaced and an act of indiscretion as it caused public outrage.
The well-intended overtures of the minister soon turned sour before cabinet as the thought of such expense going into the purchase of sweets considering the background of the country sparked public agitation which expedited the process of the confectionary order being canceled and as if that wasn’t bad enough, cabinet showed the minister the exit.
President Andre Rajoelina imposed a lockdown mid-March in Madagascar’s three main cities in a bid to contain the spread of infection. Although restrictions have been lifted in the capital, some areas still remain under confinement.
Following the imposition, there have been intense protests as residents have taken to the streets to condemn anti-lockdown measures to contain COVID-19. With the growing numbers of infections globally, most countries have had to implement stringent measures to curtail the spread of the virus, and Madagascar is no different from the rest of the world in this fight.
However, as a result of the protest, a scuffle broke out between protesters and the police, with tensions further aggravating as a police officer reportedly beat a street vendor, who was accused of violating an afternoon ban on commercial activities.
According to AFP, protesters burned tyres, blocked road and pelted security officers with stones who took nothing to chance by retaliating with the firing of rubber bullets in an effort to disperse the crowd.