Harare — ZIMBABWEAN First Lady, Grace Mugabe, is barring rivals from meeting officials expelled from the party for allegedly planning to topple President Robert Mugabe.
Among those ordered to desist from such meetings is Mugabe's deputy, Emmerson Mnagangwa, who was allegedly poisoned recently as the succession battles in the ruling Zanu-PF intensify.
Addressing thousands at her husband's political rally over weekend in Mashonaland central provincial capital - Bindura, some 200km east of Harare, the first lady challenged Mnangagwa to stop meeting rebels from the party as meeting them was tantamount to plotting a coup against Mugabe.
"If indeed you support my husband, whenever you see suspended Zanu-PF coming to your home, beat them thoroughly," Mrs Mugabe said.
"If you don't assault them, it means you are equally against President Mugabe."
Critics denounced the violent rhetoric, which is characteristic of the first lady lately.
Last month, she assaulted South African beauty queen Gabriella Engels with an electric cable after she found her in the company of her sons Robert Jr (25) and Chatunga Bellarmine (21) at a hotel in Sandton.
She survived prosecution after South Africa granted her immunity.