An inquest into the August 2011 death of retired Zimbabwean Defense Forces Commander Solomon Mujuru is set to open on Monday in Harare amid fears the inquiry could spark clashes between rival factions of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF.
Mujuru, husband to Vice President Joice Mujuru, died in a house fire at his Beatrice farm under suspicious circumstances. His widow has said she believes there was foul play.
Sources said 42 witnesses will testify as well as a team of South African forensic experts who will offer opinions on whether Mujuru died before or as a result of the blaze.
Party insiders said the retired general had been leading those in ZANU-PF calling for the aging and ailing President Mugabe to step down.
ZANU-PF sources say party leaders are worried at talk from party supporters angry at the way Mujuru died, calling it "murder most foul." Vice President Mujuru has appealed for calm with anger simmering in the party and in the Mujuru family.
Parliamentarians from all parties called in October for the police to release the results of their investigation into Mujuru's death.
"Those investigating the general's death must know that Zimbabweans are waiting eagerly to hear their findings," declared Trevor Jones Saruwaka, a lawmaker from the Movement for Democratic Change party of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
"The longer they take the more suspicious the nation and people of Zimbabwe become."
ZANU-PF legislator Simbaneuta Mudarikwa lamented the death of "a great freedom fighter" saying that "the truth shall come out of the cause of his death".
Party sources said ZANU-PF is so divided that it has not been able to undertake a restructuring ahead of elections expected this year or next.
Attorney General Johannes Tomana refused to comment. But Deputy Secretary for the Judiciary Service Commission Rex Shana confirmed to VOA reporter Blessing Zulu that the inquest, which is expected to take five days, will open on Monday.
Political analyst John Makumbe of the University of Zimbabwe said delays in releasing the results of police investigations and opening an inquest are cause for concern. He argued that such delays indicated ZANU-PF had a hand in Mujuru's death.