This is too much of a coincidence. The President travels to Turkey, COMESA market goes up in flames (a few days before the COMESA Heads of States Summit in Lusaka), then the Turkish Ambassador to Zambia announces the presence of terrorist activities in the country purportedly orchestrated by one of its own. Uuumh uuumh! Something is fishy here!

It seems we have been kept in the dark while serious developments of national interest are happening in the background. We have heard the explanation from the Chief Government Spokesperson regarding what President Edgar Lungu went to do in Turkey (which is to strengthen economic ties with the European Union’s fifth largest economy). We have laughed enough, but we are still not satisfied with the answer.

Yes, there was an inauguration ceremony and President Lungu was part of it, but we have difficulties believing that our Head of State had no special agenda in that country, outside the ceremony. This is why we would like to hear from State House Press Aide Amos Chanda.

In giving this explanation to the nation, Mr Chanda must start by explaining why President Lungu decided to drop him and Political Advisor Kaizer Zulu from this “very important” trip. Was it too sensitive an inauguration that only the innermost of the President’s inner circle was allowed to witnesses it? Or was it such a useless trip that only the President’s photographer had a role to play at the inauguration ceremony, but not the State House spokesperson?

We believe that Mr Chanda would agree with us that this recent trip is not normal. It’s very unusual for a Head of State to attend an inauguration of another Head of State outside the region, and almost unheard of for a Zambian President to attend the inauguration of another President outside the continent, especially in a region where we have no strategic interests.

We appreciate that Turkey is the fifth biggest economy in the European Union, as far as the Patriotic Front government is concerned, but if that was the basis for the President’s travel, why did Mr Lungu miss President Donald Trump’s inauguration last year? Isn’t America the biggest economy in the world? Doesn’t the United States give us more donor aid than Turkey? So, what was President Lungu’s special interest in Ankara?

We ask these very delicate questions because of the events that have followed since the President made that trip. Other citizens have speculated that the youths who have been chased from vending in the streets have resorted to arson so that they earn a living from looting markets.

We were willing to accept that narrative until the Turkish Ambassador to Zambia brought in a new dynamic of our country’s security being at risk to a terrorist organisation.

According to Ambassador Sebnem Incesu, Zambia is facing terrorism threat from Fethullah Gülen, the founder of an organisation which her country believes is behind the 2016 coup attempt.

This coup attempt was in 2016 and Ambassador Incesu was accredited to Zambia in January, 2017. She did not make this announcement upon arrival, not even last month or three months ago. She specifically chose to issue this terrorist alert in the aftermath of the burning down of COMESA market. Why? Who burnt COMESA market? Is Turkey and our government truly innocent?

At the same press conference where she sounded the warning, journalists asked if her embassy had been working with the local investigative wings on this terrorist alert, and she said all this information is in the hands of the Ministry of Home Affairs as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Why hasn’t government found it necessary to make this information known to the public that Zambia is under threat from a terrorist organization? This Turkish envoy claims that the said organization is operating schools in Zambia, which are used as a guise for its terrorist activities. Why hasn’t the Zambian government named these schools? Are they waiting for a bomb to explode in the face of our poor school children before the people of Zambia can be made aware of what was going on?

Or does this terrorist threat truly exist for sure? Or perhaps the Turkish government is trying to use Zambia for strategic political expedience? We have made our own enquiries and found that one of the schools being suspected is actually a famous and prestigious institution, which is educating Ministers’ children in Lusaka. How does this make sense? We have also found that the leader of the named ‘terrorist’ organization is living in exile in the United States of America. Which terrorist goes to hide in America of all countries, and without facing any extradition?

This is a very serious matter that deserves better answers from our government. A visitor cannot come and announce that our country is under terrorist threat while our leadership is sleeping. If this is a real threat, it should have been announced by the President himself or at least our Minister of Defence. So, we have reason to believe that there is something cooking here; State House is playing tricks with the Turkish government.

We know that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has made sweeping changes to that country’s Constitution transitioning from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency, and making himself the first-ever “all powerful” Head of State under the new reforms. This is the event that our President Lungu went to attend. Zambians must know that there are some citizens of that country, including the same terrorist-accused Fethullah Gülen, who opposed these radical reforms. The dots are connecting.

So, clearly, Turkey is fighting a political battle, and our government is being dragged into the centre of it. If Turkey decides to extradite its citizens who have invested in Zambia on grounds that they are linked to Fethullah Gülen, it is President Lungu who will be signing such an agreement on our behalf as citizens of Zambia.

That is why we demand a press conference over this issue. In fact, this must be a joint-press conference that should bring together all the line ministries, the Turkish Embassy and State House. We have so many questions to ask.

COMESA market is just one of them, what about City Market in Lusaka, Chisokone Market in Kitwe, Kapalala Market in Ndola and recently Buteko Market in Mufulira? We still don’t have a report on what caused the fires at these markets. Does the Turkish Ambassador want us to blame all this on Fethullah Gülen? Madam, you may be the biggest economy in the PF’s European Union, but our poverty should never to be mistaken for stupidity.