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Indian ambassador says the Shona have no roots in Zimbabwe

India’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Ashok Venkatesan said President Robert Mugabe and the Shona were transplants to Zimbabwe, just like the jacaranda tree which was an import from South America but had become pervasive.

As such they had no real traditional cultural roots and the people, like the tree, were extremely quiescent and undemanding.

The lack of cultural roots caused some irrational behaviour; with many in ZANU-PF saying that they were the bright jewels of the region and should be respected for it -“the most beautiful bride at the wedding”, apparently unaware of how outsiders viewed them.

The ambassador wondered if Mugabe ever gave any consideration to his legacy, and whether or not he wanted what was best for the country.

He said that although India had a long relationship with Mugabe, it maintained a neutral policy. Its view was that business is business.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 10HARARE19, AMBASSADOR’S COURTESY CALL WITH INDIAN AMBASSADOR

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

10HARARE19

2010-01-14 12:12

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

VZCZCXRO7902

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHSB #0019/01 0141212

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

R 141212Z JAN 10

FM AMEMBASSY HARARE

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5297

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

RUEHAR/AMEMBASSY ACCRA 3246

RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 3357

RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1780

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2614

RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 2984

RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 0045

RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0047

RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0074

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2515

RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 000019

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BRIAN WALCH

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR MICHELLE GAVIN

NEW DELHI FOR POLITICAL OFFICER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2020

TAGS: PREL PGOV ZI IN

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR’S COURTESY CALL WITH INDIAN AMBASSADOR

TO ZIMBABWE

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHARLES A. RAY FOR REASONS 1.4 d

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) In a meeting on January 13, Indian ambassador to

Zimbabwe Ashok Venkatesan told the Ambassador that India has

had a relationship with Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF that dates

to the independence struggle, and Mugabe had a personal

relationship with Indira Gandhi. The GOI takes a neutral

stance toward the parties now, however, and there has not

been a ministerial-level visit to Harare since 1993. Until

the political situation improves, there is not likely to be

one. Venkatesan concentrates his efforts on keeping

Zimbabwe-India business relationships smooth. END SUMMARY.

 

———————————-

INDIAN POLICY, NEUTRAL – BUT . . .

———————————-

 

2. (C) The Ambassador met with Indian Ambassador Ashok

Venkatesan on January 13 at the Indian Embassy in Harare.

Venkatesan has been at post for just over one year. He said

that India has had a relationship with Robert Mugabe and

ZANU-PF since before 1980 during the war for independence.

The Indian Government’s current policy is to remain neutral

in the afairs of Zimbabwe, not publicly supporting or

criticizing either party. He pointed out, though, that there

has been no ministerial-level visit to Harare from India

since 1993, and until the political situation improves there

is not likely to be one. He has not even been able to get

Delhi to agree to a visit from the Vice-Ministerial level,

even as India provides support for some IT and other projects.

 

3. (SBU) India’s view is that business is business, and

while business interests here are minimal, he tries to keep

the business cooperation smooth. The ethnic Indian community

here has fallen from nearly 15,000 to between 5 – 6,000,

mainly the very old and the very young. Indians in the 20-40

age range have largely emigrated to Canada, Europe, the U.S.,

and South Africa, and have no plans to return. The Indian

expatriate community of around 500 is engaged in only a few

businesses, the primary one being a cotton factory that

provides inputs to cotton farmers, buys their crop, and then

produces cotton fiber and cottonseed oil for sale. During

2006-2008, the oil production facility was subject to

excessive government intervention, with the GOZ demanding

that it sell its production locally at artificially low and

unprofitable prices.

 

————————–

NO SHONA CULTURAL IDENTITY

————————-

 

4. (C) Venkatesan described Mugabe and the dominant Shona of

Zimbabwe as transplants to this land, like the jacaranda

tree, an import from South America that has become pervasive

– similar to kudzu and armadillos in the southern United

States. They have no real traditional cultural roots. He

also said that the people here, like the tree, are extremely

quiescent and undemanding. He said he wonders if Mugabe ever

gives any consideration to his legacy, and whether or not he

Qgives any consideration to his legacy, and whether or not he

wants what is best for the country. But, he added, the lack

of cultural roots causes some irrational behavior; with many

in ZANU-PF saying that they are the bright jewels of the

region and should be respected for it – “the most beautiful

bride at the wedding,” apparently unaware of how outsiders

view them.

 

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Venkatesan noted that Zimbabweans don’t

even know the true origins of the ruins at the Great

 

HARARE 00000019 002 OF 002

 

 

Zimbabwe, which were here when the Shona entered from East

Africa and settled on land that was essentially vacant. An

interesting twist on ZANU-PF’s view of truth; there have been

some articles claiming that the ruins were built by Mugabe’s

ancestors – with total disregard to the fact that most of the

people here know it to be a blatant falsehood. END COMMENT.

 

RAY

 

(22 VIEWS)

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