Zimbabwean opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, has rubbished claims that he is a dictator amid reports that he has fired several Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) mayors who are not backing his presidency.
According to the privately-owned Daily News, Chamisa said he was only "protecting" his party against being overtaken by the ruling Zanu-PF party, which he claimed was bribing some MDC councillors and mayors to work for it.
The MDC leader axed several party mayors barely weeks after they had assumed office, a move that was described as "dictatorial" by observers, said the report.
"Many people are saying Chamisa is a dictator, he is this and that. What have I done? I am not a dictator, I am not confused either and I am such a sweet guy who deserves all the good things.
"Some people are saying I am tribal but I figure that only weak people hide behind tribe, race colour, class and all that," Chamisa was quoted as saying.
According to ZW News, Chamisa fired the mayors amid intensifying internal party squabbles ahead of the party's elective conference next year.
Chamisa's plan was to build a "public swell of support" around his leadership in order to make it difficult for any potential challengers to contest for his position, said a NewsDay report.
"Chamisa is drumming up support and raving his popularity both within and outside the structures of the party, mainly to create an intimidatory fence that will deter other members of the party from challenging him at congress," an unnamed senior party official was quoted as saying.
"He knows he can't stop the elections at congress, so he wants to make it seem like he can't be challenged."