PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has spoken for the first time on his alleged association with a ZANU-PF faction linked to Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Longstanding perceptions and rumours in the corridors of power are that the so-called Mujuru's faction has for some time been covertly courting the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) leader to help it outflank a rival faction linked to Defence Minister, Emerson Mnangagwa, in the event that President Robert Mugabe decides to relinquish power.
Events in the bicameral Parliament had seemed to suggest the existence of an alliance between some members of ZANU-PF and the MDC-T although it was not clear who the chief architect was.
However, Prime Minister Tsvangirai has denied "ever being approached" by the Mujuru-led faction.
"There is nothing of that sort that has ever happened; no one has ever approached us and we have not been in contact or held talks with members of the Mujuru faction in ZANU-PF," the premier said in an exclusive interview with The Financial Gazette.
Quizzed on the impact that ZANU-PF's power struggles and reports of President Mugabe's ill-health was having on the MDC-T, the premier had this to say:
"It's an internal issue in ZANU-PF and they are trying to contain it, but there has been no impact so far on the MDC."
But political observers say cutting deals with the Mujuru faction could be a tactic to fend off an onslaught from hardliners bent on ensuring ZANU-PF's dominance.
Perceptions of an alliance between the two first emerged when the MDC-T and the Mujuru faction were alleged to have closed ranks in Parliament in 2009 after they voted for Beatrice Nyamup-inga (ZANU-PF) who is aligned to the latter as the chairperson of the women's Parliamentary caucus to deny ZANU-PF's official choice for that post, Senator Monica Mutsv-angwa.
Nyamupinga is the sister to Locardia Karimatsenga Tembo whose family still insists is married to the Prime Minister following controversies surrounding their love affair.
ZANU-PF has also previously accused its members of voting for the MDC-T's chairperson, Lovem-ore Moyo, for the speaker's post in an election re-run last year.
At the time of the death of Vice-President Mujuru's husband, Solomon, it was revealed that during his time the late former general had previously held meetings with MDC leaders.
Charles Mangongera, a political analyst, said given the current power balance in the country's national politics, it would be foolhardy for any of the ZANU-PF factions to think that they can craft a political strategy that excludes the MDC-T if there is to be stability in Zimbabwe.