Independent party Team Benschop for Mayor will not be contesting this year’s local government elections, according to founder Mark Benschop.
“The way the system is, we do not have confidence in it and we will not be contesting at this year’s election,” Benschop told Stabroek News yesterday.
Commenting further, he said that in his view the local government system “particularly at City Hall, is a mockery to democracy with all the party politics involved.”
“They need a new model for all municipalities, where the people can elect their mayor and not where one comes from a political party. Democracy does not work this way,” he stressed.
He argued that unless the system is changed and allows for a person to campaign for mayorship, “the mayor will be made a puppet through Central Government.”
In 2016, the party had campaigned on five pillars: effective management; a long-term plan to keep the city safe and clean; modernisation of all services provided by the city; addressing city parking and vendor issues; and community development at the grassroots level.
Benschop’s party had contested the 2016 elections in all 15 City Constituencies and had managed to gain a seat on the municipal council via the proportional representation method.
“We have decided, and I have told my team, that the one seat doesn’t belong to me and doesn’t belong to any one individual but Team Benschop. It belongs to the group and every single one of us worked very hard for it and as a result that one seat is not going to be occupied for me for the entire three years…,” Benschop had declared in a March, 2016 interview following the elections.
The first and second persons will serve six months each, and the other members will serve the remaining two years for three months each, he had explained then to this newspaper.
The occupancy of the seat was to have been rotated over the last two and a half years. However, one party member, Jameel Rasul, never resigned to allow another team member the opportunity to occupy the seat, and has remained on the Council since May, 2017.
Rasul’s action forced the party to disown him for his actions of overstaying his time and supporting the highly controversial metered parking deal.
Touching on the issue for a second time, Benschop deemed the act as “selfish.” “He basically used the party for his own gains and did not represent the people. He is an embarrassment to the party,” Benschop concluded.