A Zimbabwe cabinet minister, Joyce Mujuru is set to become the first woman to be elected vice president of the ruling Zanu PF party, which will probably lead to her becoming one of two deputies to President Robert Mugabe. Mrs. Mujuru won a close contest late Monday among several senior party leaders.

Political analysts say Joyce Mujuru's credentials are that she is a genuine veteran of Zimbabwe's independence war, has always been loyal to President Robert Mugabe, and is female.

Zimbabwe has lagged behind in promoting women into top positions in the region, and Mr. Mugabe has long expressed enthusiasm for more women to emerge from traditional roles.

Political analyst Brian Kagoro, who is also co-chair of a pressure group called the Crisis Coalition, says her selection is a victory for the moderate wing of Zanu PF. He says Mrs. Mujuru has always been a modest person and is religious and compassionate.

She was a teenager in the 1970s when she crossed from Zimbabwe to Mozambique to join Mr. Mugabe's guerrillas in the fight to end minority white rule. She was the youngest and first woman cabinet minister after independence from Britain in 1980 and has occupied senior government positions since then.

But not everyone in Zanu PF is happy with her victory. There are regional clans who campaigned fiercely for their home candidates.

A powerful clan from central Zimbabwe has long wanted Parliament Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa to win the position. But he has been the subject of corruption investigations.

Mr. Kagoro and other analysts say that although Mrs. Mujuru's victory is not likely to split the party it has developed serious divisions.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says it has had a better professional relationship with Mrs. Mujuru than most other Zanu PF politicians, especially those who came into the ruling party after the last general election in 2000. Mrs. Mujuru's post should be confirmed by the Zanu PF annual congress next month.