Zim authorities intensify clampdown against dissent

As “traitorous” prison officer is summoned for attending Chamisa rally and undermining Mnangagwa

Nelson Chamisa

ZIMBABWEAN authorities have laid misconduct charges against a prison officer, who allegedly attended
an opposition political party rally ahead of the country’s harmonised elections.

The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) have summoned John Mahlabera, who is
employed as a prison officer at Chiredzi Prison in Masvingo province, to appear before a disciplinary
hearing on Thursday 01 November 2018 after charging him with contravening section 3 (46) of Prisons
(Staff) (Disciplinary) Regulations 1984 that is being guilty of any other act, conduct, disorder or neglect of
duty to the prejudice of good conduct or discipline as read with section (19) (a-g) of Staff General
Regulations 1968.

According to a charge sheet served on Mahlabera, ZPCS authorities alleged that the 36 year-old prison
officer unlawfully and intentionally participated in active politics when he attended an MDC Alliance party
rally, which was held at Tshovani Stadium in Chiredzi in Masvingo province on 10 June 2018, where he
was invited to the podium by MDC-Alliance party leader Nelson Chamisa, who then introduced him to the
opposition political party supporters.

ZPCS charged that Mahlabera was promised employment by Chamisa, where he would work as a security
detail for the opposition political party leader in the event that he emerged the winner of the harmonised
elections that were held on 30 July 2018.

ZPCS said Mahlabera had no right whatsoever to conduct himself in the manner he did.
Mahlabera will also answer to charges of undermining President Emmerson Mnangagwa through posting
some political comments on social media.

According to ZPCS, Mahlabera unlawfully made some political comments on his Twitter account after an
MDC-Alliance party rally held at Jerera Growth Point in Zaka in Masvingo province which was addressed
by Chamisa, where he allegedly posted a message, which reads; “Come to Chiredzi my president”.
ZPCS said by posting such a message on Twitter, Mahlabera contravened section 3(1) of the Prisons
(Staff) (Discipline) Regulations 1984 for using traitorous or disloyal words regarding the leader of
government and had showed loyalty to Chamisa and disloyalty to President Mnangagwa.

Nine witnesses will testify against Mahlabera during the disciplinary hearing proceedings to be conducted
on Thursday 01 November 2018 at Chiredzi Prison, where the prison officer will be represented by Collen
Maboke and Blessing Nyamaropa of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

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