James Magayi @magayijim
Kenya’s oldest football club AFC Leopards head to the polls next month hoping to put the former powerhouse back on track after decades of debilitating mismanagement.
With executive powers mostly centred around the chairmanship, four candidates have openly declared their interests in the seat.
Leopards have already formed an electoral management committee chaired by Geoffrey Serede. The board’s first task is to verify a roll of 979 voters who will pick the next set of leaders on June 23.
Eligible voters must have been paid up members for the last two years while aspirants for various seats will face special vetting process by the board before confirmation as candidates for any of the available positions.
Politician Dan Shikanda and club legend Boniface Ambani are the only candidates with backgrounds of plodding it for the club in their heydays. Shikanda gained recent prominence when he formed a ‘Rescue Committee’ to run club affairs when chairman Dan Mule went missing in action.
The running mate to former presidential candidate Peter Kenneth in the Nairobi gubernatorial race in 2017 has attracted supporters and detractors in equal measure since throwing his hat in the ring. His backers cite maturity, integrity and legendary status as the pharmacist’s strong pillars while his detractors portray him as ‘traitor’ who played for Leopards’ bitter rivals Gor Mahia.
Ambani on the other hand was among the last crop of AFC Leopards players to taste league victory in 1998 and has been vocal in condemning mismanagement at the club. The businessman who runs an apparels company is popular among the younger generation of club supporters but even with his decorated past has not escaped criticism.
Ambani is accused of being a populist and not being a club legend owing to his short stint at the den. The former Yanga marksman was forced to issue a long social media post defending his move away from the club just one year into his contract.
Former Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) officer Maurice Amahwa is throwing his hat into the ring for the second time having vied and lost to Dan Mule in the last elections.
The moneyed Amahwa is credited with having deep pockets and wise counsel but his detractors accuse him of coalescing around people with questionable characters.
He gave Mule a run for his money but concentrated his campaigns in Western Kenya rather than Nairobi where elections are held. A wiser and better-prepared Amahwa with identifiable base is clear favourite for the seat. Former chief executive officer Richard Ekhalie ends the quintet eying Ingwe chairmanship in next month’s poll.