By Markson Omagor
In the last General elections held on the 18th of February 2016, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who was National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) Flagbearer won with 60.62% of the total national vote.
His closest challenger, Dr. Kizza Besigye came second with 35.61%, Amama Mbabazi a distant third with 1.39%.
Out of the 112 districts that existed by then, President Yoweri Museveni won in 98 of them leaving Besigye with a paltry 14.
My focus however is on the districts where Museveni scored less than 50% of the vote and literally losing to Besigye.
These districts are Rukungiri 48.29% and Kasese 41.36% in Western Uganda, Tororo 41.57% in Bukedi Sub region, Sironko 49.03% and Mbale 47.27% in Bugisu sub region.
Others are Ngora 45.25% and Soroti 38.01% in Teso, Lira 39.48% and Alebtong 48.82% in Lango sub region. Gulu 32.74%, Pader 38.86%, Nwoya 41.64%, Kitgum 41.84% and Lamwo 42.92% in Acholi sub region.
In the central region, the President also failed to hit the 50% mark losing out to Besigye in the districts of Kampala 30.92%, Wakiso 36.76%, Masaka 45.73% and Mukono 49.28%.
In total, President Museveni performed below average in 18 districts majority of which were from Acholi, Lango and Central Uganda.
What is intriguing however is that in Bukedi sub region consisting of Busia, Butebo, Pallisa, Tororo, Budaka, Butaleja and Kibuku, it is only in Tororo that Museveni scored below 50%. Actually Museveni scored only 41.36% of the Presidential vote.
The question that has remained begging for answers since the last general elections is; what went wrong?
And here is what went wrong in Tororo District
Weaknesses of the District Party structures
The NRM district Party structure has severally been blamed for the poor performance of the Party in the district.
For instance, there are many Party members who feel the management of the district Party affairs has been monopolized by the current chairman, Honorable Apollo Yeri.
Yeri is accused of running the Party like a personal project reason why till 2016, no one dared challenge him in any party elections.
He has also directly or indirectly had a hand in the recruitment of the District party registrars and above all, his sunrise building along Market Street houses the NRM District office.
This is one reason that NRM support is dwindling in the district to the extent that it lost to FDC’S Kizza Besigye in 2016.
Irreconcilable differences among party leaders
True; differences exist nearly everywhere and in any part of the world or organization but the differences among party bigwigs in Tororo district are irreconcilable.
Today the Party is torn between the Tanga Odoi – Apollo Yeri camp and that of Minister Sarah Opendi that has people like former Municipality MP, Sanjay Tana and former LCV Chairman Osuna.
The differences are so strong that Minister Sarah Opendi was even accused of being responsible for the death of former LCV Chairman Tororo district, Apollo Jaramogi!
The same Tanga Odoi- Apollo Yeri camp is said to have camped at State House imploring President Museveni to drop Sarah Opendi from Cabinet.
The district boundary stalemate
The failure by President Museveni to come out clear and clean on the issue of creation of Tororo district and West Budama district is impacting negatively on his popularity.
The Iteso who are agitating for the New Tororo District having its headquarters in the current Municipality think the President sold them a raw deal. President Museveni promised to grant the Iteso their district but seems to have backtracked after a spirited fight from the Japadhola.
The Japadhola on the other hand are accusing the President of siding with the Iteso because the latter have the numbers. They have vowed to spill blood if that is what it takes for them to preserve Tororo Municipality as part of their new district.
With no one being sure of victory, the President’s opponents take this window of opportunity to sway votes to their side. Until such a time that the President finds an amicable solution to this impasse, NRM’s support in Tororo district is bound to fall further.
Claims of vote rigging in Party Primaries
This is also not unique to Tororo district especially going by the last elections.
Tororo however stands out because the current NRM Electoral Commission boss is Dr. Tanga Odoi who comes from Tororo district and is deeply engaged in the district’s politics.
In 2016 Party primaries, Sanjay Tana is reported to have opted out because he was aware the outcome had been rigged in favour of Apollo Yeri.
Indeed, even after he stood as an NRM leaning Independent, reports were rife of ballot stuffing in areas like Water Village A-Z, Nyangole Primary School, Amagoro Primary School, Aturukuku Primary school and St Jude Primary School by the Apollo Yeri group.
State Minister of Mineral Development, Sarah Opendi also fell victim to what she called the machinations of Tanga Odoi to rig her out in the Party Primaries. She contested her loss to Jacinta Ayo and stood as an NRM Independent and actually won the elections.
These stories are rife in Tororo with many supporters accusing Tanga Odoi and Apollo Yeri of rigging out Party members they consider not part of their camp.
Back to you NRM National Party Chairman