The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) joins Zimbabweans at home and abroad who are celebrating a largely peaceful change of political leadership, marking the end of Mr. Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign. Former President Mugabe’s leadership will be remembered for his role in the country’s liberation from colonial rule, and the promising successes the country achieved in its formative years, particularly in the education sector. Mugabe is also a revered Pan-Africanist who spoke eloquently about the total empowerment and emancipation of the previously disadvantaged peoples of Africa.

Despite these achievements, Mugabe’s reign was marred by his record of human rights violations, the manipulation of elections, and the economic impoverishment of the people of Zimbabwe. The end of his rule therefore provides the country with a new opportunity to rebuild a prosperous, free, democratic, fair and inclusive society. These are values that IJR subscribes to in its vision and mission.

The IJR has worked in Zimbabwe cumulatively for more than 15 years through joint interventions targeted at building the capacity of civil society, institutions of higher learning, local communities and governmental institutions to drive justice, peace and reconciliation processes across the country. IJR’s work in Zimbabwe will continue through its project entitled Sustaining Peace in Southern Africa which will be operationalized in early 2018. Through this project IJR will work with the constitutionally-mandated Zimbabwe National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC). IJR will partner with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Zimbabwe, to support the work of the NPRC, which has an important role to play in building the bridge towards a new dispensation of tolerance, social cohesion and harmony in the country.

IJR urges the Zimbabwe military, which executed Operation Restore Legacy to compel Mugabe to concede power peacefully, to actively work towards restoring civilian authority within the context of the prevailing constitutional order. IJR also appeals the military to recognise the human rights of the so-called ‘criminal elements’ that were arrested in the execution of Operation Restore Legacy, and hand them over to the appropriate law enforcement and judiciary institutions, through which they can be brought to justice in line with the constitutional provisions of Zimbabwe.

The excitement exuded by Zimbabweans at home and across the world, as well as by their supporters and collaborators in the cause of freedom from oppression from around the world, should now be transformed into a new positive energy to resuscitate the country from its current socio-economic malaise. As the country wakes up to a new dawn, we urge those assuming political authority to uphold the constitution to transform society by building strong institutions that strengthen democracy and guarantee human rights and justice for all. IJR believes that this momentous transition in Zimbabwe is also a victory for Africa’s quest for freedom from oppression. IJR stands ready to work with like-minded partners to contribute towards the restoration of the human dignity of all peace-loving Zimbabweans.