There has been a flood of reaction against comments made this week by President Jacob Zuma's foreign policy advisor, Lindiwe Zulu, supporting the removal of targeted sanctions that were placed on members of the Mugabe regime by Western nations and the European Union.
Zulu, who is also part of the facilitation team working with Zimbabwe's coalition partners, on Thursday said the restrictive measures are not working. "It's not just Zimbabwe that's saying the sanctions are not working. The entire continent is saying that," she is quoted as saying.
An immediate flurry of reaction appeared online, with many suggesting that Zulu has forgotten that the Mugabe regime was put under these restrictions after having committed serious human rights violations. Others reminded Zulu that there are no sanctions on Zimbabwe, but a travel ban and an asset freeze on the individuals responsible for the abuses.
"You should rather act against the offending responsible party and its power base to bring about a democracy, another word which Africa, including South Africa, does not comprehend. They pay lip service too but that's all," said a reader on the Reuters website.
Another said: "It is a deliberate lie by the Zimbabwean and South African governments that sanctions target the people of Zimbabwe. The western countries of the EU and USA are pouring in millions of rands daily in donations of food and medicine to the people of Zimbabwe whilst the AU countries contribute nothing."
Zulu and her mediation team flew into Harare this week for more sessions with the negotiators representing the main political parties. Their task has been to agree on a roadmap to elections, under SADC guidelines and according to the GPA. The process has been going on for three years, with ZANU PF refusing to implement key reforms.
Political commentator Lameck Mahachi blasted Zulu, saying she speaks as though she is ignorant of the fact that the measures do not affect ordinary Zimbabweans whose rights are being abused by those on the sanctions list.
"She knows the restrictions are meant to curb these despots from travelling around the world shopping, while Zimbabweans are suffering. This only shows that they don't care about the ordinary people. They are in cahoots with the regime," Mahachi said.
Zulu and other supporters of the removal of sanctions claim the move would encourage Mugabe to move forward with key reforms agreed to under the SADC facilitation. But Mahachi ridiculed the suggestion, saying Mugabe and ZANU PF have done nothing to encourage the lifting of the restrictions and would never change their behavior.
"Remove Mugabe and he goes with his problems. Look at the sweeping changes taking place in Malawi." one online response suggested.