The struggle within Zimbabwe's former ruling ZANU-PF party to succeed party chief President Robert Mugabe, 85, continues even as the party closed ranks and opened its fifth congress Wednesday in Harare, the capital.
But the scene at the International Conference Center at the Rainbow Towers Hotel was calm as delegates were accredited and the party's central committee gathered to finalize the agenda ahead of the official launch Friday.
Analysts agreed that ZANU-PF will manage to paper over internal differences, but say that fissures will probably continue to widen as Mr. Mugabe balances competing factions through a well-calculated patronage system.
From results endorsed by the ZANU-PF politburo on Monday the faction led by Vice President Joice Mujuru and her husband Solomon appeared to have bested that headed by Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
For a closer look at the party's internal affairs VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira reached out to ZANU-PF Mashonaland Central Chairman Dickson Mafios, a central committee member, and analyst Charles Mangongera.
Mafios said that contrary to speculation, ZANU-PF will emerge stronger from the congress. But Mangongera said that while the party must reinvent itself now that it is sharing power with the Movement for Democratic Change, internal cohesion is "disintegrating" even as dissenters are "whipped into line."