Grace claimed then, that Mnangagwa had always been plotting against Mugabe and tried to engineer a coup in 1980. Mnangagwa allegedly lied to Mugabe that white people were trying to kill him in order to get him out of the country so that he could take power unencumbered. Said Mugabe
What really gave me a judgment about Mnangagwa was when in 1980, after the people’s vote, and before the results were announced he and David Stannard, of the whites he was working within CIO, came to me and said, “you’re under threat. You, Nyagumbo and Nkala please leave the country.
…The three of us were known to be the militants and we left. Samora Machel (Mozambican President) said why have you come? We told him that we had been told we are under threat and we had to leave. Samora said come on, get back.
….“We told Mnangagwa we are coming back because Samora wouldn’t have us, he said, “please don’t come back, I repeat don’t come back, don’t!” We said no, let’s go. We came back, they received us and nothing happened. I said to him why? He said for security reasons we thought you would be more secure outside. To this day, I still ask myself questions. Nyagumbo and Nkala were angry, what did they want to do which would not be possible with us in the country?
Mugabe also disputed claims that he wanted to leave his wife Grace as his successor arguing that he had already identified former Minister of Defence Sydney Sekeramayi as his heir apparent. He went on to say that Sekeramayi and Mnangagwa would have competed for leadership at the Zanu PF Congress. Mugabe said,
Why did a section of our people decide to go this way? In order to secure a position of leadership for just one person? Was there no better route. The Zanu PF, which I led, had scheduled an extraordinary congress for December 2017. I was going to resign and open our system. So those who wanted to compete for leadership of the party and leadership of the country would do so… at that Congress, I was going to support a candidate I had in mind. I had in mind all the time Dr (Sydney) Sekeramayi.
When Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa asked whom I wanted to take over after me. I said Dr Sekeramayi will by my choice. I had talked to Dr Sekeramayi and he was surprised.
… I was going to argue at that Congress for people to choose…They would compete at that Congress. That did not happen. All the talk, all the nonsense you hear that the president wanted to leave his wife as president, all that nonsense…it’s utter nonsense. So, hear it from me…I was sacked from the party I formed with others. I was regarded as an enemy. If the coup was to protect me, how come that I’m treated now as an opponent?