President Edgar Lungu says he has tolerated so much criticism without hitting back, which he would not have allowed if he was a dictator.
The Head of State was speaking at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport before departure for Ethiopia where he has gone to attend the African Union Summit.
He said although Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu rebuked him in public, he will speak to to the Catholic Bishops privately.
“I met Catholic representatives yesterday and I will meet the Catholic bishops and I will hear their voice, the Archbishop spoke publicly but I will speak to him quietly and you know that is not what a dictator does,” president Lungu said.
He bragged that he was not a dictator because he consults a lot.
“A dictator does not consult, a dictator does not take criticism. I have taken so much, I have been punched so much but I have not hit back. Obviously I can hit back and all fairness I am a human being. But I believe people should be given enough latitude to contribute, to criticise, to do checks and balances and that is what democracy calls for,” said President Lungu.
And the President said some politicians and civil leaders were in the habit of insulting him so as to ride on his name to gain media coverage.
“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,” President Lungu said.
“So for me those who are thinking they will get mileage or prominence by insulting me, humiliating me, they are just setting a bad precedence for the freedom of speech and opinion. However, I will not take them on because I will be elevating them to my level, I am too dignified for that,” he said.
President Lungu added that he was a very busy man to sit down for petty talk in the name of dialogue.
“..they should find more substantiative matters when dealing with me because I am a very busy man,” said President Lungu.