Zambian President Edgar Lungu has reportedly said that his opponents were in the "habit of insulting" and "criticising" him so as to "ride" on his name and title, and "gain some media coverage".
According to Lusaka Times, Lungu said this while speaking to journalists before his departure to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the African Union summit.
Lungu laughed off claims that he was a dictator, saying he was not going to be "distracted" by people calling him names.
"I will not be distracted from doing my job because you are calling me a dictator, when I am not one, they are enjoying the coverage you are giving them when they say Edgar this. I am president so when you insult the president you get coverage and freedom of the press allows that," Lungu was quoted as saying.
Lungu's remarks came as reports indicated that Zambia was slipping into a "dictatorship".
Lungu was facing a chorus of criticism over his government's moves to clamp down on dissent.
At the heart of the tensions was the arrest and continued detention of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, a wealthy businessman who has run for president five times, and narrowly lost out to Lungu last August.
Authorities alleged that Hichilema blocked Lungu's motorcade with his own convoy of vehicles during a traditional ceremony in the country's western province in April.
They said that Hichilema's motorcade did not yield after presidential security guards signalled for it to get out of the way.
The opposition leader was recently charged with treason.