PRESIDENTIAL BETRAYAL! How Tana Lost Tororo Municipality Parliamentary Seat

Many incumbent Members of Parliament lost their parliamentary seats in the recent February 18th polls, including Ministers but most of them saw the losing coming.

The rig Tana donated to President Museveni during his campaign visit to the district
The rig Tana donated to President Museveni during his campaign visit to the district

That was not the case with Sanjay Tana, the incumbent MP for Tororo Municipality who lost to NRM flag bearer, Apollo Yeri Ofwono.

For starters Sanjay was representing the tribally volatile Municipality for the second term in Parliament as an Independent who was obviously NRM leaning.

In fact there are rumors that Sanjay twice turned down the appointment of Minister of State for Investment portfolio for purposes of concentrating on serving his constituency.

The name Tana in Tororo Municipality is synonymous with job creation, bridging the Iteso and the Japadhola who are all fighting for supremacy over the Municipality.

He dedicated much of his Parliamentary salary to building bridges, extending electricity to the suburbs of the Municipality and providing scholarships to underprivileged students.

With such a litany of achievements, few expected Tana out of parliament at least not this time, but it happened.

Suffice it to note that whereas we are speaking in terms of losing, the Tana Campaign Task Force knows their candidate was simply robbed of victory.

Believing in their victory and armed with the Results Declaration Forms that showed that Tana was winner; they went to court asking for a vote recount.

In court however, the Presiding Chief Magistrate was taken aback when the two ballot boxes reached court already tampered with.

She declined the recount on that ground sending the Apollo Yeri supporters into jubilation.

“The Declaration Forms we have in our possession show that Tana got over 8000 votes beating Apollo Yeri Ofwono. But when we went to court for a vote recount, the ballot boxes were tampered with so the Magistrate declined to continue with the recount. We opted not to go to the High Court, because our candidate’s life had been threatened several times and for purposes of protecting his business empire, we agreed to let it go,” said Jamal Ngobi who was the Chairperson Tana Campaign Task Force when sounded out. So why then did Tana ‘lose’ the Municipality Seat?

THE TANGA ODOI FACTOR:

Tanga Odoi is the current Chairman NRM Electoral Commission and was before that appointment the Spokesperson of the Tien Adhola cultural Institution.

Aware that he was joining politics, Tanga resigned his position at the cultural institution and in his resignation letter dated 30th October, 2014 Tanga promised to support a candidate of his choice for Tororo Municipality which of course was not Tana, to flush out Emmanuel Osuna the LCV Chairman, and Hon Sarah Achieng Opendi, the Minister of State for Primary Health and incumbent Tororo district woman MP who also survived the onslaught by a whisker.

Tana monitoring power installation works at Mudakori village in his constituency last year
Tana monitoring power installation works at Mudakori village in his constituency last year

Tanga was one reason Tana opted out of the NRM primaries. In the general elections, Tanga was everywhere in Tororo Municipality moving from house to house, intimidating and assaulting perceived Tana supporters. He stoked the tribal sentiments to the extent that it became criminal to support a candidate not a Japadhola in Tororo. He used soldiers from Rubongi barracks ostensibly as bodyguards but actually turned them into a fear factor terrorizing the opposition as he saw it. Along that line, he saw off Geoffrey Ekanya (an Itesot) from Tororo North County, Opua the Municipality Mayor also an Etesot and Tana perceived to be protecting the Iteso interests. Tanga according to sources was at the Tally Center when the Municipality MP results were declared past 4:00 am and now the Tana group strongly believes Tanga could have engineered the vote change that transpired that night.

THE ITESO/JAPADHOLA TRIBAL DIVIDE:

Granted,the sharp tribal divide between the Tororo Iteso and the native Japadhola has existed for long but its infringement on people’s political choices was worse in this election. There were whispers doing the rounds that if Tana won again, they the (Jap) would cause mayhem. Led by Tanga, the Japadhola big wigs got swallowed in the mud and made sure non Japs were not voted to office. Omalla, the infamous anti- Besigye cop was strategically deployed in Tororo Municipality to see that Tana is failed. Omalla, apparently had the blessings of the Deputy Inspector of Police, Okoth Ochola to weed out Tana. Omalla was instrumental in causing the arrests of Tana’s polling agents especially in the polling stations of Water Village A-Z, Nyangole Primary School, Amagoro Primary School, Aturukuku Primary school and St Jude Primary School where there were allegations of ballot stuffing by the Apollo Yeri group.

IGP KALE KAYIHURA INVOLVEMENT:

Reports doing rounds indicate that whereas Kayihura had been friends with Tana, their friendship accidently broke down on the eve of elections. While at Jinja during his many country wide campaign tours, President Museveni is said to have asked Tana to join Brigadier Tumukunde to flush out Amama influence in Bukedi sub region. Tana is said to have taken the assignment with zeal moving with Tumukunde to ensure that the Amama, MP Saleh Kamba influence was broken. This partnering with Tumukunde was eventually to break the cordial relationship Tana had with the amiable General. Kayihura who has an axe to grind with Tumukunde is said to have taken Tana head on considering him an enemy. Omalla’s deployment is then said to have had the backing of the General. Insiders in Tana’s camp are disheartened that their candidate’s involvement in doing President Museveni’s job courted him trouble from Gen. Kayihura moreover, they claim Tana was not aware or part of the feud between Kayihura and Tumukunde.

PRESIDENTIAL BETRAYAL:

Whereas Tana was fighting forces that had coalesced against him because of his errands for President Museveni, the President never came to his rescue. Instead, the President made matters worse for Tana when he went to Tororo twice during the campaign trail and told his supporters to vote Movement. Tana remained orphaned. The President who always knew him as NRM and even received a campaign truck did not vouch for him, yet the movement leadership in the Tanga Odoi’s was also actively anti him. It was also too late for him to jump to the opposition FDC that saw him as a strong Museveni supporter. Left hanging, Tana fought his war but was let down by an amalgamation of forces that cheated him of victory.

ENTER FDC’S NATHAN NANDALA MAFABI:

As earlier mentioned, FDC saw Tana as a big force hindering their efforts to win over Tororo and especially the Municipality. So when Rtd. Col. Kizza Besigye visited Tororo, Nandala also the Secretary General of FDC took his 15 minutes telling the people of Tororo not to vote for Tana arguing that voting for Tana was like voting for Museveni. Nandala in fact said Yeri Apollo Ofwono was a better devil than Tana. FDC’s influence in Tororo is big so Nandala’s words found fertile grounds and this was made worse by the fact that President Museveni also seemed to abandon his ‘Son’.  When the Amama group came to Tororo, they also singled out Tana whom of course they knew played a significant role in dismantling their cells in Bukedi sub region.

THE RELIGIOUS FACTOR:

Again unknowing of the animosity that exists between the Catholics and Protestants in the political field, Tana became very instrumental in the coronation celebration activities of Bishop Obbo. In the end, Tana was perceived as pro Catholics who are accused of dominating the Socio-political and economic spheres in Tororo district. Again the Pro Protestant group led by Tanga, Ofwono Opondo and Oboth Oboth fought the Tana’s.

CAPTAIN MIKE MUKULA’S INFLUENCE:

Rtd Flight Captain, Mike Mukula who is the NRM Vice Chairman for Eastern Uganda actively fought Tana and greatly contributed to the latter’s downfall. Mukula is said to have flown his yellow chopper to Tororo Municipality twice and told NRM Supporters to back Apollo Yeri Ofwono. Mukula was apparently pissed off by Tana’s growing influence in Eastern Uganda. Tana for instance mobilized for Papa Emorimor Osuban’s treatment abroad, he was in Bukedea campaigning for Hon. Rose Akol, the Minister of Internal Affairs who also suffered from internal intrigue, in Katakwi campaigning for Hon. Jessica Alupo, the Minister of Education, Sports and Technology and in Pallisa rooting for Hon. Ocwa. Taking advantage of the fact that Tana stood on an independent ticket, Mukula fought him to the extent of landing his chopper on a venue Tana had earmarked for his rally sending his supporters into disarray.

SOCIAL MEDIA PROPAGANDA:

The last nail on Tana’s political coffin was perhaps the well rehearsed Social Media propaganda his nemesis unleashed on Social Media. Tana was accused of being an agent of the Indian Association. The allegations followed a Medical camp he facilitated at St Anthony’s Hospital last year and brought in Asian Medics. The group also cited his motion in Parliament where he advocated for the recognition of the Indian Community in Uganda. Aware that the local community in Tororo is developing anti Indian sentiments for allegedly taking over all the businesses, the group circulated the accusations aggressively. We got in touch with one of the leaders of the Indian Community in Uganda, Rajesh who expressed dismay with the outcome of the February polls. Rajesh told us that whereas the dictatorial Amin had Bob Astles in his inner Cabinet, Obote had Shafik Arein as Minister, Kabaka Mutebi had Mr. Taylor and Tobani, Museveni’s NRM has never had an Indian in his Cabinet since 1986. Rajesh said considering that they contribute about 60% to the National coffers through taxes, it was unfair to sideline the Indians. He noted that the political demise of Singh Katongole in Rubaga North, Salim Umar in Kampala for Mayor during NRM Primaries, Ian Clark in Makindye East and Andrew Allen in Bugabula North is the responsibility of the NRM government. With the Indian Community getting jittery, there are reasons to worry that Uganda may be headed for a massive dis-investment from the Indians.