Team Mnangagwa vs. Team Mujuru
Nevertheless, Mugabe has yet to explicitly name his preferred successor, and over the coming year, a political civil war is likely to wage between the two hopefuls. In this fight, Mujuru may have won the provincial election battle, but Mnangagwa arguably has behind him the country's most canny strategists with the experience and vision to devise an overall victory. The most notable of these are Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Chinamasa, a formidable duo that helped deliver various electoral victories for Mugabe, though Mnangagwa also has the support of other senior ZANU-PF figures who could prove useful.
By contrast, Mujuru's faction looks weaker. The most conspicuous politician in her faction is probably Didymus Mutasa, a politburo member who many believe constitutes little threat, while the same could be said of ZANU-PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, another figure believed to be loyal to Mujuru.
A joint presidency?
How things will pan out over 2014 and which candidate finally achieves their long-held ambition of becoming the next presidential nominee remains to be seen. All eyes are on the party congress in December.
However, in many ways, whatever happens at that conference will not be the end of the story, but just the latest chapter in the Mujuru-Mnangagwa rivalry. Indeed, it is highly improbable that a single person will dominate the party as Mugabe has, and whichever faction wins will have to ensure the other faction does not feel like it lost too badly.
After all, if Mujuru takes over ZANU-PF, she will not only have to appease Mnangagwa's ambitious allies for the sake of unity, but also probably concede considerable power in order to secure the electoral experience of his faction with the 2018 general elections in sight.
On the other hand, if Mnangagwa emerges victorious, he too will have to be generous to Mujuru's faction in order to retain the support of the party's lower ranks, the vice-president's power base, in the same interests of cohesion and electoral success.
Thus, whichever group triumphs, it is unlikely to drive the other into obscurity. It is more likely that the two leaders will share power to a large degree, at least in the short-term, resulting in a dual power regime within the party, with the leadership role itself being largely nominal. It seems the political tale of Mujuru vs. Mnangagwa is destined to drag on for quite some time yet.
Simukai Tinhu is a political and economic analyst with an academic background in African politics (University of Cambridge). He is the Editor of Maximum Africa Journal, a weekly African affairs magazine. Follow him on twitter @STinhu