Horizon Education Trust is seeking leave of the Lusaka High Court to apply for judicial review against the President’s decision to compulsorily acquire Horizon School, which is stand number KABUL/N_59565/196 in Lusaka’s Kabulonga area.
Horizon Education Trust, which has cited the Attorney General as respondent, is seeking an order of certiorari to quash government’s decision and an order of prohibition to stop government from taking possession of the premises, among other reliefs.
According to an affidavit in support of ex-parte summons for leave to apply for judicial review filed in the Lusaka High Court Principal Registry, Friday, Sainot Leslie Mbula, chairperson of Horizon Education Trust, explained that the trustees for the school were himself, Colonel Panji Chipeta, Lillian Kapulu, all Zambians, as well as, Dos Yusuf, Orhan Gurlevik, Okkes Kutoglu, Salih Gulhan and Ahmet Adiyaman, who are all Turkish nationals.
He explained that Horizon Education Trust was a registered trust incorporated on March 20, 2009.
Mbula further explained that Horizon Education Trust operates as a private school that provided quality education for pre-school, primary and secondary school.
He added that the school follows the Zambian Education Curriculum approved by the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC).
Mbula stated that on March 25, 2009, Horizon Education Trust entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education to facilitate the acquisition of land for the construction and operation of Horizon School and also that the school could be governed by the provisions of the Education Act.
He further stated that on August 26, 2011, Horizon Education Trust and the Ministry of Education entered into an MoU, whereby, they were granted the property known as KABUL/N_59565/196 for the construction of the school for the period of 90 years.
Mbula stated that the school was consequently registered the institution and constructed Horizon pre-school, primary and secondary school in accordance of the law and the MoU.
He stated that Horizon Education Trust had been maintaining and operating the school in accordance with the law and MoU of March 25, 2009, and August 26, 2011.
“The applicant is currently offering education to more than 500 pupils, most of whom are Zambian citizens and employs 44 Zambian teachers and only four expatriates. The applicant has enjoyed good relations with the Ministry of Education and has strictly implemented the terms of the MoU without breach and in accordance with the rules and regulations governing and regulating operation of schools in Zambia,” Mbula stated.
He, however, stated that to the surprise of Horizon Education Trust, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, acting on behalf of the President, issued notices to acquire and yield up possession of the school on September 12, 2019, and on November 15, 2019, respectively.
Mbulo stated that the said notices were served on September 25, 2019 and November 29, 2019, respectively.
“The notices allege that the President urgently requires the premises where the applicant operates and manages the school, which premises were demised to the applicant for use by the Ministry of Education. The respondent is expropriating the applicant’s business without authority and has not given the respondent the correct notices for the expropriation of the applicant’s business,” he stated.
Mbulo argued that Horizon Education Trust could not move its place of business within two months and, as such, the time frame was unreasonable considering the nature of their business.
He stated that the legal ownership and title of the property had never been transferred to Horizon Education Trust and that the Ministry of Education agreed to give the applicant the right to use the premises for 90 years.
Mbula added that there was no legal title to convey ownership of the premises to the President as alleged.
“What exists between the respondent and the applicant is a contract authorising the applicant to be on the property for 90 years and, as such, if the respondent requires to obtain early possession of the property before the expiration of the term, the respondent has liberty to approach the applicant for negotiations,” he stated.
Mbula stated that government had failed to provide information as regards what competing public interest overrides the important public interest of education provision, which was in fact done in cooperation with the Ministry of Education.
He further stated that government had not even engaged Horizon Education Trust in any negotiations regarding the payment of compensation for the applicant’s interest that were being abrogated.
“That the decision to acquire a property valued at US $4,318,000.00 for unclear and unjustified public purposes is unreasonable and an unnecessary charge on the public fund and also taking into account that the State is highly indebted in other debts,” Mbula stated.
He stated that this was an appropriate case for the Court to grant a stay of implementation of the decisions, which government was likely to effect on December 30, this year, pending determination of the application to apply for judicial review.
“The status quo should be preserved or maintained until this honourable court has reviewed the legality, reasonableness and propriety of the decisions to acquire and yield up possession of the premises, otherwise, the application will be nugatory and academic,” stated Mbulo.