President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s statement that the 2008 elections were free and fair cannot go unchallenged.
Without doubt, the 2008 elections were one of the bloodiest Zimbabwe has ever seen and the right thing would have been for Mnangagwa to apologise and promise that such episodes belonged to a bygone era.
Thus, his denial raises the spectre that there can be a recurrence of such episodes.
His denial subtly tells his supporters that they can engage in violence and the leaders will deny that anything of that sort ever happened.
Cases abound of victims hopping from MDC-T headquarters, Harvest House to police cells, the South African embassy and the US embassy in search of sanctuary after the State unleashed violence on the hapless people.
The world watched in shock at the scale of violence that preceded the 2008 presidential election run off and it sends a chill down the spine that Mnangagwa says the elections were very free and fair.
This is why Zimbabweans were desperate for an independent National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which reports to Parliament, rather than a minister, because they have stories to tell and a partisan government official will not be the best person to listen to them.
It is imperative for the development of the nation that there is real and true healing, but this will not come from denialism from the highest office in the land.
In the aftermath of Mnangagwa’s ascension to the presidency, many were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and accept his letting bygones be bygones mantra, but some will start questioning him because of this crass denial of what appears to be a very obvious case.
Mnangagwa has said he will hold a meeting with leaders of political parties soon and we hope they challenge him on that statement.
If the country is to develop, then there is no room for airbrushing the past, but instead history has to be embraced so that there is no repeat of previous mistakes.
What Mnangagwa should be doing is engaging all the victims of political violence, in a show of empathy, and to reassure them that there shall be no room for electoral violence in the future.
Denying that there was violence is an insult to those who were affected and have not had justice almost a decade later.
If the country is to progress, it requires an honest assessment of the past and a commitment to upholding the rule of law.