Special Reports

How Sanjay Tanna Overturned Opposition Support In Eastern Uganda


By Markson Omagor




Sanjay Tanna, a former Member of Parliament for Tororo Municipality and contestant for NRM Regional Vice Chairman Eastern is a man resting on his laurels after the recently concluded Presidential elections.


Tanna is responsible for President Museveni’s win in Bugisu, Bukedi and Kapchorwa sub regions where he was the NRM Party’s mobiliser especially for President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.


Just for the record, Tanna was co-opted into the NRM National Task Force on the 1st of December 2020 after it emerged that the opposition was leading in the region.


An internal survey carried out by NRM showed that by 1st December, 2020, the NRM Presidential candidate’s support in the sub regions of Bukedi, Bugisu and Sebei stood at between 19-29%. This was the time a decision was taken to bring in Sanjay Tanna who by the way had won massively in the same sub regions during the NRM regional Chairpersons’ campaigns.


Over all, Sanjay beat Capt. Mike Mukula in the three sub regions by a landslide in the region of 75%. This factor must have informed the NRM strategists to bring him in to mobilise votes for President Museveni in the aforementioned sub regions.


By close of voting on 14th January 2021 and declaration of results, President Museveni had beaten the leading opposition contestant, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi in all districts of the three sub regions except Mbale City.


So How Did Tanna Achieve This Feat?


Immediately Tanna was co-opted into the National Task Force but in charge the three sub regions, the first thing he did according to our sources was to dismantle the National Unity Party (NUP) structures in Namisindwa where NUP had a big presence. The resultant effect is that NUP’s legal officer, Wameli Anthony and MP contestant for Namisindwa County was beaten by NRM’s flag bearer, Masika Apollo.




In Kapchorwa, the Tanna led team ensured that NUP, FDC and Tumukunde structures were also demobilized. Several meetings were held with boda boda riders, women groups, youths and mechanics in Kapchorwa, Kween And Bukwo



In Mbale City, Tanna met Mbale City garage mechanics at Sports Club and spent hours meeting and educating the mechanics on how their future can only be secured by President Museveni. This was one area where Kyagulanyi had a big following. Speaking to this analyst, one Mechanic operating at Mbale City garage popularly known as Ojame revealed how Tanna had convinced him to ditch Kyagulanyi for President Museveni.


Tanna followed this up by meeting Rastafarians that included marijuana smokers at North Road Primary School in Mbale. To many of these Rastafarians, this was a sign of respect and recognition by NRM and by a man they knew to be too rich to meet them. It should be noted that Rastafarians were the bedrock of Kyagulanyi support. This particular group had ganja and mairungi sellers and car washers as well.


To sum up Mbale, Tanna also met market vendors, street vendors, and warehouse people in Namatala, Car washers in Nkoma, and Traders in Munkaga suburbs.


The same effort was expended in Tororo whereby for the first time in three elections President Museveni scored 58%. In the 2016 Presidential elections, Museveni scored less than 50%.


There were special meetings for women, clearing agents, taxi drivers, and people working in both the Taxi and bus Parks. These meetings were held in all the districts of the three sub regions.


In a nutshell, Sanjay Tanna refused to use the conventional manner of politicking where leaders meet and address rallies. He instead chose to segment voters into groups where concerns and aspirations were shared. For instance, when he met garage Artisans and Mechanics, they raised issues that affect them as Mechanics operating in Mbale City.


Importantly, aware of the corrosive local politics especially in Mbale City, Tanna steered off the Connie Galiwango versus Lydia Wanyoto rivalry. In most of his messages, Tanna urged voters to cast their votes for President Museveni and have the freedom to choose local leaders of their choice.

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