Mule: The Ingwe with different spots out to run the Den

Dan Mule is the ‘Ingwe with different spots’ that wants to take charge of the Den during the AFC Leopards SC elections next weekend.

If he succeeds, Mule’s journey to the top will be the culmination of a journey against all odds at a club that prides itself as a crown symbol of the western region.

Founded in 1964 as Abaluhya Football Club, the team was forced to change its name to All Communities All Footballers’ Confederation Leopards Sports Club or simply, AFC Leopards SC or Ingwe, the Luhya word for one of the Big Five cats it was named after when President Daniel arap Moi’s regime abolished all tribal outfits.

Mule, who has been a co-chairman of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) since December when a power-sharing deal was brokered by the Sports Disputes Tribunal to end the bitter leadership wrangles, aims at being in sole charge of the team during Saturday’s elections.

His vision if elected is to see the club own its own training grounds and a hostel for the players within the first two years of his election besides ensuring its driven by commercial, not tribal interests.

“This can be achieved by simply working hand in hand with the club sponsors so as they may issue an interest free loan to Ingwe and they will then be deducting the money from their package monthly,” he outlined on how the team could have its own facilities in the desired period.

The former Embakasi Branch chairman first appeared in the limelight in 2013 when he vied for the top position and lost to Allan Kasavuli, the man who sparked the leadership crisis when he quit his position mid last year.

After the reigns briefly passed on to former chairman and Nairobi County Assembly speaker, Alex Ole Magelo, Mule was fronted as Interim Chairman but his rival Mathews Opwora laid claim to the position sparking a management war that threatened to split the club down the middle.

With the team finishing seventh, 37 points below champions and arch-rivals Gor Mahia in last season’s Kenyan Premier League (KPL) the leadership circus ended before the Tribunal that thrashed out a power-sharing agreement that accommodated both Mule and Opwora led factions.

While Opwora has largely been anonymous, Mule has been the face of Ingwe’s administration, overseeing the day to day running of the team and in March, accused his IMC co-chair of siphoning Ksh1.8m from the club’s account to refund rejected sponsors, Betway.

According to Mule who sent bank statements to Citizen Digital to prove his sensational allegations, Opwora and his cahoots withdrew the money from Ingwe’s account to pay back part of Betway’s 10 million shillings sponsorship money they had supposedly misappropriated once the cash from their new deal with SportsPesa was received.

-Declining performances-

AFC Leopards SC chairman Mathews Opwora (right) and his co-chair Dan Mule present the club’s jersey to new coach Ivan Minneart after being unveiled in Nairobi, Kenya on February 26, 2016.Mule has accused Opwora of siphoning Sh1.8m from Ingwe coffers. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com
AFC Leopards SC chairman Mathews Opwora (right) and his co-chair Dan Mule present the club’s jersey to new coach Ivan Minneart after being unveiled in Nairobi, Kenya on February 26, 2016.Mule has accused Opwora of siphoning Sh1.8m from Ingwe coffers. Photo/Stafford Ondego/www.sportpicha.com

Declining performances on the pitch after the strong start to the 2016 KPL season that saw Ingwe shoot to the top under Belgian coach, Ivan Minnaert and the bungled mid season clear out that saw eight players seek legal redress for wrongful dismissal are some of the lows of Mule’s administration in the run-up to the polls.

Co-secretary General, Maurice Osundwa, accused his bosses of negligence after wrongly crafted contractual letters were handed to the aggrieved players on signing that saw the Independent Disciplinary and Appeals Commission rule they be paid Ksh2.1m in salary arrears with the judgment to award them further damages of  Ksh11.4m pending.

The IMC agreed to negotiate with the affected players out of court in a bid to reduce the amount of settlement with the parties still in discussion.

Considered the outsider among the candidates for the top seat, the man who hails from Machakos is seeking full mandate so that he can push through the reforms he has hinged his campaigns on.

He is vying for the top post against the sons of the ‘Mulembe Nation’ Opwora, former federation Vice-President, Robert Asembo and Coast Branch chief, Maurice Amahwa.

“The team has not been performing well but as a Co-chairman I cannot do anything for now since the binding rules in which the IMC was formed do not allow anybody to touch the technical bench even if things are not going well,” Mule held.

Last month, Mule declined overtures to step down from the chairmanship race in favour of a ‘home’ candidate and contest for the vice-chairmanship.

Some die-hard conservative supporters including the Luhya Council of Elders Secretary General, Ezekiel Anunda say he should not be voted in as the club’s chairman since he does not ‘understand the culture of the team’.

“This club is well understood by people from Western region and he can not purport to know how the club should be run. We want to return the club to its where it belongs. Mule has no better goals for the club and if given this post the club will be buried,” he claimed.

Ironically, Anunda backed Mule for a post in the Executive Committee, preferably as the number two in acknowledgement of what the co-chair has done for the team.

Football legend, Joe Kadenge, advised the team to consider an outside candidate to run the club saying the management wrangles that have plagued the team mirror Luhya politics, where the community has never rallied behind a single candidate from the region.

“AFC Leopards is a national club and should never be termed as a Luhya club. If Luhya leaders can’t speak the same language in politics, then why not accept someone from outside our community to rise to the top most position in the club?” The revered former international posed.