A former Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) officer who was fired for supporting opposition leader Nelson Chamisa in the disputed 2018 harmonised elections is understood to be facing hard times despite pre-election promises by the MDC Alliance president that he was going to appoint the hard-pressed former prison officer as one of his top security aides.

John Mahlabera, who was stationed at Chiredzi Prison, was in 2018 dismissed on charges of using traitorous or disloyal words towards Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa and is now reportedly living in a squalor in resort Kariba town.

During the run up to the 2018 polls which were controversially won by Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF,. Chamisa publicly announced that he was going to offer the jobless Mahlabera with a post in his security team.

Parading Mahlabera in front of a bumper crowd which thronged Tshovani Stadium in Chiredzi on 10 June 2018, the youthful opposition leader praised Mahlabera’s bravery for taking Mnangagwa’s repressive government head-on.

The MDC-A leader also promised to employ the dismissed prison guard who had been rendered jobless because he openly supported the quadragenarian. But Chamisa has failed to owe up to his promise of employing the now unemployed civil servant.

Before his dismissal, Mahlabera had also allegedly tweeted in favour of Chamisa on April 9, 2018.

“He wrote the following words on his Twitter account, Come to Chiredzi my president, thus, showing loyalty to the opposition party president, thereby exhibiting disloyalty and disgraceful conduct to the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe”.

On the second count, he was found guilty of contravening section 3(46) of Prisons (Staff ) (Disciplinary) Regulations 1984 after he attended Chamisa’s rally which was held in Chiredzi.

Despite trying to make a follow-up on the job offer through text messages, Mahlabera said Chamisa told him to ‘call’. He said further attempts to reach out to the MDC-A leader were fruitless as his mobile was no longer reachable.

When contacted, MDC-A deputy chairperson Clifford Hlatwayo said they had lost contact of the jobless former prison guard.

“We have lost contact with him and the other guy who was also victimised. If you get in touch with him, tell him to contact the mayor of Kariba. The mayor will then contact us so that we can see how best he can be helped,” said Hlatwayo.

additional reporting: Zwnews