Vice President Joice Mujuru's faction scored a landslide victory in the party's provincial elections held on Saturday, making her the odds-on favourite to succeed President Robert Mugabe.
Official results released by ZANU PF's national chairman Simon Khaya-Moyo on Sunday showed Mujuru's faction now controls nine out of the ten provinces. Mujuru has been fighting a bitter turf-war with Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa for the right to replace Mugabe.
However Khaya-Moyo said the results were still to be endorsed by the politburo. The highest decision making organ of the party will meet on Wednesday to look at the results, although it is widely believed results of the elections, characterized by chaotic scenes and violence, will be allowed to stand.
Results confirmed on Monday indicate that the Mujuru camp has taken charge of Harare, Bulawayo, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo and Matabeleland South provinces. Only Matabeleland North province was won by an ally close to Mnangagwa.
This weekend's results brings Mujuru's tally to nine, after her allies swept to victory in the Midlands, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland provinces, where elections were held last month.
Analysts were quick to point out that this should not be seen as an endorsement for Mujuru to take over the reins yet, as her rival is known to be a 'great schemer' and 'a come back kid.'
Commenting on the conduct of the exercise, journalist and analyst Itai Dzamara said the elections were openly manipulated to favour one faction, which by all accounts points to a bitter fight ahead of the elective congress to be staged at the end of 2014.
'This succession race is not over yet. There will be twists and turns along the way. The abuse of state departments to run the ZANU PF poll, marred by intimidation and bribery, has become so embedded in the party-thought process and conduct in elections that what has happened should not be a surprise at all.
'This is a replica of the July 31st poll. The provincial elections were rigged by the CIO, police and army,' Dzamara said.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, the director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, told SW Radio Africa that the most fundamental thing that people should note from the provincial elections is the similarities to the July elections.
'The chaotic nature of the voters roll and, most fundamentally, the involvement of CIO, army and police, is a serious indictment on the election of the July poll where the unavailability of the voters roll was well documented.
'To those that have been refusing the argument that the July 31st poll was rigged the weekend provincial elections is a good example that ZANU PF rigs its own elections and they also rig the national elections,' Ruhanya said.
A political commentator who asked not to be identified, said the ZANU PF leadership fears losing elections so much that they will do anything to win.
'This conditioning is the cause of the violent and chaotic internal and national elections. Maintaining power is a career and this makes winning elections a matter of life and death in the party,' said the commentator.