Anxiety has gripped Zanu-PF officials after news that a report prepared by South African judges after observing the 2002 election in Zimbabwe could be made public, party insiders have said.
The report was prepared for former South African president Thabo Mbeki by Constitutional Court justices Sisi Khampepe and Dikgang Moseneke after they were sent by Mbeki to observe the elections.
Last week the North Gauteng High Court ordered the presidency to hand over the report to the Mail & Guardian, which has fought for the past four years for its release.
Zanu-PF sources said the report contained information confidentially supplied by people who are close to President Robert Mugabe, and its release may prove politically awkward for party officials who supplied information to Khampepe and Moseneke.
The information may relate to Zanu-PF's complicity in violence, election misconduct that borders on manipulating the process in favour of Mugabe, and confidential information relating to how Mugabe conducts his party affairs, insiders said.
The sources said it was already known that some of the discussions with the justices took place at Harare's five-star Meikles Hotel. The two insiders, who are central committee members of the party, also said the party was worried that the report may finger officials and destabilise the party ahead of elections.
Analysts this week said the report was a reminder of the recent WikiLeaks scandal that created widespread problems within Zanu-PF. The leaked United States diplomatic cables fingered several ministers, retired and serving military generals, and Mugabe's confidants, who allegedly held secret meetings with US diplomats at which they revealed their lack of confidence in Mugabe's leadership.
'Gnashing of teeth'
Professor Brian Raftopoulos, a developmental studies academic, said there could be "gnashing of teeth" in Zanu-PF if there was information in the report supplied by Mugabe's confidants that expressed reservations about the manner in which the 2002 election was held.
Raftopoulos said it was important for Zimbabweans to know what the report contained "so that wrongs committed are known and addressed", in the context of the elections due to take place this year.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera said the report was "potentially damaging for Zanu-PF, as it is likely to confirm the use of sanctioned violence in the 2002 presidential election".
Mangongera said the anxiety in Zanu-PF over the release of the report was understandable because the "last thing the party needs are divisions ahead of elections". He said for any official to be mentioned in that report would be "politically damaging", adding, however, that the party did not discipline any of the officials involved in the WikiLeaks scandal.
But a Zanu-PF MP said no action had been taken by the party over the WikiLeaks saga because many people did not trust the motives of the foreign diplomats, but with the Khampepe report "it will be difficult for the party to ignore it as the views and information supplied by the judges will be taken as credible".
A South African diplomat based in Harare said the government was not comfortable with the report being released because the mediation role South Africa has been leading on behalf of the Southern African Development Community could be thrown into disarray as "no one may want to confide in South African officials again".
The executive director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Irene Petras, said the contents of the report are "significant insofar as they may be able to confirm long-standing allegations of electoral malpractices, state complicity in violations, and/or electoral fraud". She said the "continued resistance by the South African government to comply with the order to release the report can lead to negative conclusions being drawn about the contents of the report and thus fuel presumptions that there is something to hide".
In last week's ruling, Judge Joseph Raulinga said: "Without disclosing the contents of the report I can reveal that the report potentially discloses evidence of substantial contravention of, or failure to comply with the law," he said. Raulinga ordered the report to be released within 10 days.