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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Zimbabwe, case of Pastor Evan Mawarire

14.3.2017 - (2017/2608(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Victor Boştinaru, Soraya Post, Ricardo Serrão Santos on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0191/2017

Postupak : 2017/2608(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on Zimbabwe, case of Pastor Evan Mawarire


The European Parliament,

-having regard to its previous resolutions on Zimbabwe notably the one of 14 September 2016,

-having regard to Human Rights Foundation to the UN Press release of February 27, 2017 titled Investigate Evan Mawarire’s Arbitrary Detention in Zimbabwe,

-having regard to Joint local statement on the abduction of Itai Dzamara European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of EU Member States present in Harare and the Head of Mission of Switzerland, 09/03/2017,


-having regard to European Parliament Press Release of 15 September 2016 on the state of human rights in Zimbabwe,


-Having regard to the Human Rights Watch World Report 2017,


-having regard to the local EU statement on violence of 12 July 2016,


-having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/220 of 15 February 2016[1] amending Decision 2011/101/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe,


-having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981, which Zimbabwe has ratified,


-having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 1948,


-having regard to the Constitution of Zimbabwe,


-having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,


-having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,


A.whereas Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement’s, Article 96 of which stipulates that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of ACP-EU cooperation;


B.whereas Zimbabwe's presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for July 2018, would arguably, be the most contested poll in the history of the country, as a record number of candidates, including Independents are expected to contest; whereas President Mugabe has been in power since independence in 1980 and is seeking re-election, and whereas several members of his government have denounced calls for electoral reform ahead of the 2018 elections;


C.whereas, since the fall of the coalition government in 2013, the work of Tendai Biti in stabilising the economy and increasing government revenues has been undone by a return to the system of patronage and kleptocracy and a state of fear; whereas Zimbabwe is now experiencing the worst economic crisis since the hyperinflation of 2008; whereas the government is effectively bankrupt;


D.whereas since 6 July 2016 the opposition movement #ThisFlag called for a national ‘stay-away’ day in protest against the government’s inaction against corruption, impunity and poverty; whereas this resulted in a massive shutdown of most shops and businesses in the capital and led to a severe crackdown by the authorities; whereas the protest movement led by clergyman Evan Mawarire, using the hashtag #ThisFlag, has drawn support from churches and the middle class, which had hitherto tended to steer clear of street politics;


E.whereas Zimbabwe security forces cracked down last year after internet activism by the “This Flag” movement which led to a series of anti-government protests and work strikes; whereas the national flag became a symbol of anti-government protests after the then little-known pastor posted a Facebook video in which he had the flag wound around his neck as he deplored the country’s worsening economic crisis;


F.whereas Pastor Evan Mawarire who had fled to the United States, six months ago following harassment and threats to his life by suspected state agents; at the time, he was a leader of the #ThisFlag campaign and protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government, calling on authorities to address Zimbabwe’s rights problems and failing economy, was arrested upon his arrival at Harare International Airport, by the police in January 2017;


G.whereas Pastor Evan Mawarire, is reportedly going to launch a run for the country's 2018 presidency very soon, using a combative combination of social media campaign platforms, as an Independent candidate to challenge Zanu PF's decades long misrule;


H.whereas the magistrates’ court in Harare has earlier charged Pastor Mawarire of subverting a constitutional government, which carries a 20-year prison sentence and while Mawarire has returned home on bail but remains subject to the restrictions imposed by the Harare Court on February 8—a bond, the surrender of his passport, and the obligation to report twice a week to the police; whereas a court had cleared him of all charges in July 2016, this time around, authorities have added charges of inciting public violence and insulting the national flag;


I.whereas in August 2016 bloody clashes took place in the capital, Harare, when the police ignored a court order and bludgeoned thousands of protesters who had gathered under the auspices of National Election Reform Agenda (Nera) to express their opposition to outstanding electoral reforms ahead of the country’s eagerly anticipated 2018 national elections; whereas many of those who were detained are still in custody, and the precise whereabouts of many is unknown;

J.whereas there is growing tension once again in the crisis-ridden Zimbabwe against a background of cash shortages, widespread unemployment, state corruption and efforts by the authorities to suppress freedom of expression and political opposition; whereas the various groups are now positioning themselves in expectation of the post-Mugabe era;

K.whereas a small number of EU restrictive measures against the Zimbabwe regime were renewed in February 2016 until 20 February 2017; whereas the asset freeze and travel bans will continue to apply to President Mugabe, Grace Mugabe and Zimbabwe Defence Industries; whereas an arms embargo will remain in place; whereas the EU had previously lifted restrictions on 78 people and 8 entities;


L.whereas Promise Mkwananzi, the leader of #Tajamuka, a social movement linked to the July stay-away, who was arrested and charged for inciting public violence, has been released on bail; whereas another #Tajamuka activist, Linda Masarira, was arrested during the protest in July and has remained in detention ever since;


M.whereas on 2 September 2016 the police invoked Statutory Instrument 101A to ban all demonstrations in central Harare, a few hours before 18 political parties were due to hold a major demonstration in the capital; whereas many demonstrations are now organised through social media;


N.whereas the veterans of the independence struggle, formerly close allies of Mugabe in the ruling party, boycotted his speech on 8 August 2016, denouncing his dictatorial drift and his failure to solve the grave economic crisis plaguing the country since 2000; whereas the President saw this boycott as a betrayal and, in retaliation, arrested three members of the National Association of Independence Veterans;


O.whereas the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for Zimbabwe has been allocated EUR 234 million for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund, to be focused on three main sectors, namely health, agriculture-based economic development, and governance and institution building;



1.Expresses serious concern over the rise in the number of arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders and those engaging in peaceful and lawful demonstrations and urges that the rule of law be respected and that the constitution be upheld; regrets that Zimbabwe has failed to uphold the civil and political liberties provided in its Constitution,


2.Recalls that, under the Global Political Agreement, Zimbabwe is committed to ensuring that both its legislation and its procedures and practices are in accordance with international human rights principles and laws, including the freedom of assembly, association and expression;


3.Calls upon Zimbabwe to immediately and unconditionally release Pastor Evan Mawarire and stop all form of violence against the citizens who are participating in the legitimate and peaceful exercise of their Constitutional right to demonstrate, associate, assemble and express themselves,

4.Emphasizes the important role that individuals, civil society organizations and groups in Zimbabwe play in the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and therefore calls upon the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to insist that Zimbabwe upholds its obligations to respect, fulfil and protect human rights of its citizens,


5.Strongly reiterates its call to the EU to start up a political dialogue with the Zimbabwean authorities under Articles 8 and 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, thereby confirming the EU’s commitment to supporting the local population;

6.Calls on the Council and Commission to consider re-imposing certain measures, while making clear that these will be removed and that a package of assistance will be made available once Zimbabwe respects human rights, democracy and the rule of law,


7.Insists that the EU must ensure that the funding allocated to Zimbabwe for its National Indicative Programme effectively addresses the sectors concerned and calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to allow the Commission unhindered access to the EU-funded projects and to enhance its openness to technical assistance for jointly agreed projects and programmes;

8.Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Government of Zimbabwe, the African Union, the United Nations Secretary-General, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Pan-African Parliament (PAP).