Just came out of a PTA meeting at Horizon school in Lusaka.
The parents of the 500+ pupils were officially informed by the Horizon Board that Govt has ‘taken over’ the three international award winning and high performing streams: Nursery, Primary and Secondary.
Half of the students are on sponsorship ranging from 10 to 100 per cent.
The school has a record of 100% pass rates at Grades 7, 9 and 12 levels and focuses on STEM subjects.
Horizon was built on the Ministry of Education (Kabulonga Secondary Schools) land, an act sanctioned by the MMD regime of Prez Rupiah Banda.
It was launched in Zambia in 2009 through an MoU with GRZ which offered this land to Horizon. The school officially started operating in 2011 and was officially opened on March 23, 2011, by then Prez RB.
All was well until 18 July 2018 when Turkish Ambassador to Zambia, Sebnem Incesu, accused HORIZON (without naming it) as being led by “terrorists.”
Apparently, the school is connected to the world-wide Fethullah Gülen organisation which is in more than 160 countries, including Zambia, according to Incesu.
The Gulen movement was founded by the-now USA-based Moslem cleric, Gulen, who was accused of inspiring the attempted coup in Turkey on 15 July 2016 leaving 251 people dead in Ankara. Thousands of arrests followed throughout Turkey.
Gulen was once a close ally of the tough-talking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
At her 2018 press conference, Incesu said: “Two years have passed since the failed coup attempt. There has been a thorough investigation and this subject matter is something very important for Turkey…this organisation, which [was] behind the coup attempt is actually active all over the world, [and] that includes Zambia. Fethullah Gülen, you know this name…is the leader of Fethullah Gülen terrorist organisation; this is also an international crime organisation… We consider this organisation not only a threat to Turkey, but also all the countries they are active.”
Further, Incesu said: “Actually, they have a primary and secondary school, they have a nursery school and a businessman association. How do we know that these people are related with the Fethullah Gülen organisation? There are lots of intelligence reports, testimonies, so we know that certain people in those schools; I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT STUDENTS, BUT THE ADMINISTRATION OF THOSE SCHOOLS, HEADMASTERS. So, those people administering those structures, we have strong evidence that they have affiliation of the Fethullah Gülen organisation. And let me add this; they don’t have any connection with the Turkish Embassy. We don’t recognise those people. They have no relation at all with the Turkish Embassy.”
She said Turkey was in touch with the Zambian Gvt though the Ministry of Home Affairs and she hoped that these contacts would “yield positive results soon.”
The Turkish embassy statement came a day or so before Erdogan flew into Lusaka for a one-day [few hours] official visit. He was on his way back home after attending a BRICS Summit in RSA.
Erdogan was at the BRICS meeting as Chair of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Earlier in June 2018, Prez ECL attended the inauguration of Erdogan as a more powerful executive president after abolishing the office of Prime Minister in his Govt.
Also, Turkey has strong military relations with Somalia and Sudan.
In May this year, Defence Minister Davis Chama visited Turkey under the Defence Cooperation Agreement between the two countries.
In an interview with Turkey’s International News Agency, Anadolu, Chama announced that Zambia’s Attorney General had cleared the draft Defence Cooperation Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation with Turkey in the field of Defence Industries.
Anadolu quoted Chama as saying that “We need to see how we can develop our defence industries together with Turkey and enhance defence cooperation as we secure the world and the African continent.”
On 24 September 2019 Govt sent a letter to Horizon, together with a Gazette Notice notifying Horizon that it has been ‘nationalised’ and also informing the school of the “Compulsory Acquisition of Horizon Schools.”
A month later, on 29 November 2019, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources issued a Govt Gazette notice “regarding the Compulsory Acquisition of Horizon School: Notice to Yield UP.”
This 1960s UNIP-style takeover of a private school, run by a Zambian-registered independent Trust dominated by Zambians, is being challenged in the High Court of Zambia.
It is estimated that the Trust invested more than $4million in the school infrastructure alone
Horizon is opposite Chibelo [Govt] Primary School and Hilltop Hospital in Kabulonga.