I reproduce a section of a news item captioned, ‘Benschop says council seat will be rotated among members, vows to fight for disempowered’ (SN, March 21). I would suggest to readers that to understand the personality of Mark Benschop, they should read this quote twice:
“‘We have done absolutely nothing wrong. Team Benschop had the best campaign and plans, people were attracted to us. Did that accumulate votes? No. It should’ve but sometimes we are complacent and the very low voters turnout showed that residents who believed in us should’ve gone out and vote,’ he said, adding that it allowed persons to win who may not have had their communities’ best interest at heart. While Benschop admitted that his group had lost and made no excuse, he said that they understood why they did and it is their duty to ensure that the same reason did not prevail come the next elections. ‘We [Team Benschop] accept the results albeit we expected something better and we didn’t get it this time around which is obviously not our fault but just the voting pattern in this country. I think we have presented the best team, I am not saying the others might not have had good people, they have but people have tossed us aside for a party symbol…’”
That quote is a reflection of the ego, hubris and hauteur of this gentleman. But equally important is his contempt and disdain for people. This is what caused his self-destructive venture into electoral politics. Let us examine the hypocrisy of his explanation. Mr Benschop exclaimed that “we did nothing wrong.” By “we” I assume he is talking about his team. Yes, they committed a huge wrong; that error was in running with Benschop in the first place. The wrong the team committed is not seeing that Mr Benschop’s ego would cost them their seat in his own constituency.
Mr Benschop brought third in his own constituency behind Saiku Andrews. Benschop got 315 (which is two less than he got in his presidential bid in the general elections of 2015) and Andrews 556. Leaving aside Sherod Duncan who had party machinery behind him, few Guyanese knew who Andrews was. The entire country knew Benschop. Leaving aside the 62 votes for the PPP candidate, 1828 for Duncan and 556 for Andrews, in Benschop’s own constituency in which he is a household name, 266 votes went to candidates other than Benschop. In summary, in Benschop’s own district, where he lives, of 3036 valid votes Mr Benschop got a mere 315. That is ten per cent of the ballots. For the national figure that he is, that is an inglorious, incongruous, humiliating loss.
Yet Mr Benschop said he ran the best campaign. This brings us to hubris and hauteur. If there was a low voter turnout as he claimed, then why did it not affect Saiku Andrews? Why did it devastate Benschop’s chances only? The answer is ego and pomposity. Armed with his ego, Mr Benschop cannot acknowledge defeat. Here is an incident that showed how pathetic was his approach, and the rest of the team if they are interested in politics should form their own group.
A host of a weekly programme at Channel 2, Mr Weeks called Mr Benschop to join a debate right there and then on air. All the other candidates agreed but not Benschop. I met Mr Benschop at the magistrate’s court and told him his refusal was silly. I told him when you are on the campaign trail, you need maximum publicity. His response was, “They cannot summon me at such a last minute.” Mr Benschop said he lost because Gecom’s education exercise was incompetent. There is an additional insult he heaps on voters. He said his supporters stayed at home. I wonder why. I wonder if they are afraid to tell him what I am telling him here.