The Zimbabwean first citizens are on  the news again.

President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace upped the ante and attacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, seemingly pulling the rug from under his feet at a rally held in the mining and agricultural town of Bindura, about 92km north of Harare on Saturday.

“Since 2014, when President Mugabe picked two VPs, there have been many bad words coming from certain individuals hiding behind Mnangagwa’s names. Those individuals have attacked us in public, saying it’s time President Mugabe leaves office,” Grace said.

Mnangagwa and his wife Auxillia looked bemused, while Grace accused him of keeping company with “people chased away from the [Zanu PF] party”, asking him not to “interact” with those people if he was “really behind Mugabe”.

“VP Mnangagwa, if you support President Mugabe, why do you keep company of people who were fired from the party? You are seen with some of the people holding a cup inscribed ‘I am the boss’,” she said.

“I am asking VP Mnangagwa to stop it. I once warned [former vice-president Joice] Mujuru and she didn’t heed my advice. Where is she now?”

“Let’s not lie that everything is OK in the party when it’s not,” Grace said on Saturday. “We know everything about you [Mnangagwa], good or bad. Those ministers who don’t want to support Lacoste are framed. [Higher and tertiary education minister] Jonathan Moyo is one victim. There were demonstrations against [Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour] Kasukuwere because he refused to support Lacoste. For those who want factionalism, go to Masvingo or Midlands. Kasukuwere is not going anywhere,” she said.

Grace on Saturday asked why Mnangagwa kept quiet for a long time while the name of the Mugabe family’s dairy business was being soiled. She said people got sick, but it was wrong for the VP to “manipulate his sickness” for political gains.

She said Robert Mugabe was once a victim of food poisoning at a rally in Manicaland and fell sick at the funeral of Senate President Edna Madzongwe’s husband, but “no noise” was made about it.

Robert Mugabe, who first spoke glowingly about Mnangagwa’s role during the liberation struggle, suddenly changed stance and attacked his deputy, first accusing him of being one of the plotters of the 2004 Tsholotsho declaration before pulling out at the last minute.

The 93-year-old president also spoke of reports that Mnangagwa left a rival Godfrey Majonga with a broken spine after giving him two options – sit on a red-hot stove or jump out the window from the second floor of a flat. The incident reportedly occurred in 1987.