Former vice president Joice Mujuru will be a significant ally for Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of next year's elections, an analyst says.
Mujuru and Tsvangirai signed a pact in Harare on Wednesday to pave the way for a coalition of opposition parties to face President Robert Mugabe in the upcoming elections, which until now the longtime leader looked certain to win.
The exact details of the deal still aren't available, as @ZimMediaReview pointed out.
Said the online watchdog: "Lots of excited media coverage of the Mujuru-Tsvangirai [memorandum of understanding], but none have actually seen it. What does it say; why wasn't it made public?"
The deal was strengthened on Thursday with a second signing ceremony, this time including Welshman Ncube, the leader of a splinter faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Harare-based political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said the pact is "big news" that could lead to a broader opposition coalition.
"I don't think it'll end in tears. I'm aware that [other significant opposition figures] are already in talks with the MDC. So I think in the near future you'll see them coming to coalesce with these guys. I don't think Mujuru would say, 'I'm going back to Zanu'. I don't foresee that," he said in an interview.
Ruhanya also believes that some war vets (traditionally Mugabe's biggest supporters) will follow Mujuru into the alliance "but not significantly enough to tilt the balance of the war vet following between her party and Zanu-PF".
'Warning shots fired' at Mugabe Nelson Chamisa, a co-vice president in Tsvangirai's MDC said in a tweet that the alliance means "locating exit points to the crisis in Zimbabwe".
The pro-Mugabe state-controlled Herald newspaper said Mujuru has become a "political concubine" of the MDC by signing the deal.
It's not the first time the state has used the term "concubine" to describe Mujuru. There is a fair amount of dislike within the ruling party, reportedly fuelled by Grace Mugabe, of Mujuru.
Ruhanya said this was not surprising.
"I don't think she'd [Mujuru] be in government for 34 years and fail to get one or two significant pieces of information on how elections are rigged. I think she will be significant [as a political ally]." Former MDC member and education minister David Coltart, welcomed the news."Tsvangirai, Mujuru join hands - amhlophe (congrats) to both!" tweeted the ex-minister.
The Daily News, which is sympathetic to the opposition, said the pact means pre-election "warning shots" have been fired at Mugabe, who has hung onto power for the last 37 years.
The 93-year-old president hasn't reacted publicly yet to news of Wednesday's signing. But earlier this month Mugabe reportedly poured scorn on rumours of a coalition, saying it would suffer a "grand" defeat.