THOUSANDS of UPND members are rallying behind me not because of money but because of character and soon the party president Hakainde Hichilema will witness a mass exodus of members, former UPND vice-president for politics Canisius Banda has predicted. In an interview yesterday, Dr. Banda said that it was not a shock or a hidden fact that thousands of UPND members around the country were rallying behind him not because of money or favours but his ‘‘character, conduct, love, service, loyalty and patriotism’’. He said that it was unfortunate that Mr Hichilema would lose thousands of his members but that he had to endure that sad reality and ‘‘lamentation’’ which Dr. Banda also made reference to in his resignation letter to the party. UPND Lusaka Province youth deputy information publicity secretary Samuel Ngwira claimed on Monday that Dr. Banda was working with well-known UPND members across the country whom he had promised jobs on condition that they joined the PF. Mr Ngwira warned of disciplinary action against any UPND members allegedly involved in corrupt activities and being used by Dr. Banda to secure jobs in Government as they risked disciplinary action. “Thousands of the UPND members are following me. They are asking me which way to go. They are saying, ‘doctor, whatever you decide, we will follow’. They are putting pressure on me every day. This is in Central Province, Copperbelt and I am particularly touched with how people in Southern Province love and respect me. ‘‘It is true, thousands are following me and I am glad that they have that information. It’s not because of money as the only incentive. What I have is character, service to humanity and purpose to touch and change lives. I keep no slaves. Hey, they are simply expressing their liberty. Platforms may change but our service in honour of God will remain,” Dr. Banda said. Dr. Banda said that Mr Hichilema had contacted some of the UPND members and discouraged them against interacting with him but that to his disappointment, they refused, stating that they were free men and women and would decide as they deemed fit who to associate with. He said it was not true that he was moving around the country encouraging people to leave, saying UPND members were following him voluntarily and that he would not stop them as it would be unconstitutional. “So they are lying. I have not been all over the country. I am on sabbatical. I am resting. They are liars. You should ask them. When did I leave Lusaka to go to Kasama or Mongu…the day I left Solwezi? I am thinking of even going to California to seek a quiet moment,” he said. Dr. Banda claimed that his suspension had ‘‘mortally destabilised the UPND’’ and has since advised the opposition party to focus on putting its house in order ‘‘unlike the current situation where it is diffident, angry and delusional as well as in disarray’’. Dr. Banda described the 2017 Budget as a bitter pill of quinine to swallow but that it was necessary to swallow it if the country was to heal economically and expressed hope that fiscal discipline would help steer the economy. “The 2017 Budget is a bitter pill to swallow; these are quinine days. I call them quinine days but it’s necessary to swallow these pills if the economy is to get better,” he said.