Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe has proved herself "stronger than a nuclear bomb" in her efforts to fight corruption, the country's new vice president has claimed.
Emmerson Mnangagwa said President Robert Mugabe's wife was his "strong weapon", according to comments carried by newspapers today.
This was in stark contrast to descriptions by the ruling party last weekend of the new head of Zanu-PF's women's league as "kind-hearted".
The party has denied claims that Grace Mugabe, 49, is behind attempts to evict up to 150 families from a farm in the Mazowe district, central Zimbabwe, to make way for a new game park.
Mnangagwa, who replaced Joice Mujuru as first vice president last month, said: "We didn't know that President Mugabe had a strong weapon. Stronger than a nuclear bomb. When Dr Mugabe was invited to lead the women's league she exposed corruption and changed our perceptions."
Grace Mugabe led a spirited campaign against Mujuru in the run-up to the December party congress, accusing her of corruption and of trying to oust the 90-year-old president. Police are said to be investigating the allegations, but have made little progress.
The first lady, who is still on her end-of-year holiday with the president, has hinted she herself has presidential ambitions.
A prison officer who ventured an insult of Grace Mugabe in an unguarded moment last month has been hauled before a disciplinary committee, the private Newsday reported Thursdayesterday.
It is already a crime to insult the president.