UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says he has information to the effect that two of his members of parliament are being courted by the Patriotic Front (PF) to ditch the UPND for greener pastures in the ruling party.

And Hichilema has also asked his members to continue defending themselves from PF attacks, saying the peace accord signed by the two parties does not mean that they are in a working relationship.

Meanwhile, Hichilema said the UPND has come up with a strategic plan that would enable the party strengthen its structures in the country and also improve its vote protection strategy to see to it that votes are never again stolen from them.

Addressing a press briefing at the party secretariat yesterday, Hichilema said it would be selfish for UPND MPs to accept bribes from the PF and defect, forgetting the people who campaigned for them.

“Last week we heard State House sent a team, including people who are working as civil servants to go to Copperbelt rural to buy our councillors. Am told they were offering councillors money so that they could defect to PF. I am told they were being asked ‘how much do you get? We will calculate three more years remaining for you to be in the council and we will pay you your salary in advance and then we will top a K100,000 so that’s why councillors are going. Then you as UPND members are saying ‘what’s happening with UPND?’ That’s what you are saying on your social media platforms. This is a scheme by PF to use stolen money to impoverish citizens and obviously if you are saying councillors are being bought, PF can’t buy their own councillors, so which other councillors are in this country? Of course it’s UPND,” Hichilema said.

“I am told now that Lungu has made a decision that he will try one or two MP’s from the UPND and buy them as well. He will say ‘what’s your salary?’ just the same formula they are using for the councillors. So they will pay them for all the months left from 2021, calculate and then say ‘here is your cash’, ‘what is your gratuity supposed to be?’, calculate, ‘here is your cash’ then even add an extra and then send them into foreign mission. But honestly speaking, what about the people who have no food who voted for you? What about those who campaigned for you? What about those who have been killed for you to be in office? You agree to take K2 million or K3 million, money which has been stolen from Eurobond and is now channeled through roads where $900 million has been stolen. That is blood money and you take it and you say you are a shrewd politician. I want to say that it will be sad to have anyone of our people found in that situation.”

He also said he would reach out to UPP leader Saviour Chishimba to find out the names of the MPs who were betraying him.

“My brother Saviour Chishimba claims that some UPND members of parliament are on the PF payroll and that HH has been captured. If there are UPND MPs who are on the PF payroll, then they shouldn’t be in this party. They should do what the councillors have done, resign and go to PF. I don’t know them, Chishimba says I know them but I will talk to him and ask him the names of those people because helping UPND helps him as well. I am sure he experienced the second time now. He experiences the Lusaka mayoral by-elections so he now understands that the taste of the pudding is in the eating. But to be polite, I don’t want to engage in a debate with my brother Saviour Chishimba, we would like to work with him as true opposition members rather than engaging in mudslinging with each other. I will give him a call and ask him to help me with names of those people,” Hichilema said.

The opposition leader asked his supporters to be wary of the PF and always defend themselves when attacked, emphasising that the ruling party had a hidden agenda behind the signing of the peace accord.

“The peace accord the youths signed should not be confused that we are working with PF, we are not working with PF. We shall not work with PF to destroy our country, they are destroying the country. We will not be accomplices to selling Zambia to vulture funds. We will not entertain the idea that remove Nalumango (UPND national chairperson), Lungu is telling us to remove Nalumango but she is our Nalumango and we know what she is able to do. We will do things in our way at our own time and when you see someone insisting that ‘remove Nalumango’, you must know that those are the agents of Lungu. UPND is not for sale and the youth peace accord is only meant to help end violence and we have been against violence as UPND, we have been victims of violence and our people have died because of violence,” Hchilema said.

“And just as you know the youths signed that accord but the following day PF took over our rally site in Kanyama, they went into Roma one and beat up our people, they were using guns, but at the same time they were saying don’t transport cadres from one place to another but they were they ones transporting cadres. So we have now guided our youths to say ‘you will now do things that will protect citizens because we want to end violence’. So that’s the context in which that process must be understood. We support peace, stability and no violence but we don’t want to be duped into an agreement when PF is planning another. We have information of what they are doing. We support no violence, but if you are attacked by PF thugs, defend yourselves because that is what the constitution says.”

Meanwhile, Hichilema said the UPND had come up with a trategic plan to enable the party strengthen its structures in the country and improve its vote protection strategy to see to it that votes were never again stolen from them.

“I want to ask UPND members to continue focusing, don’t lose your focus and don’t listen to these councillors being bought. Do not get disturbed with that, it’s a strategy of those who want a one party state, most of you have forgotten already that towards 2011, between 2006 and 2011, the MMD then were winning almost all the by-elections and do not forget that 23 members of parliament defected from PF to join MMD before the 2011 elections, they even went again and ran on the MMD ticket in 2011 but none of them won the elections,” said Hichilema.

“Five secretary generals left PF to go to MMD, the so-called ruling party and everybody was saying ‘Sata asila, Sata asila (Sata is finished, Sata is finished)’ why can’t you remember history? UPND is not finishing, there is no kusila! There is only going forward in UPND, there is no Dununa reverse. Sometimes God has his ways to clean up the house so that when we are in office, we can put the right people in the right positions. And I want you also know that the best way to get angry is to go out and mobilise instead of just arguing with each other on social media. Let’s go and form branches across the country. Every penny we have must go towards branch formation, including our programme of vote protection. We have resolved to come up with a strategy to ensure that our votes are never again stolen,” said Hichilema.