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|Social activist, owner of Benschop Radio 107.1FM and host of online and radio programme “Straight Up,” Mark Benschop, is calling on the Opposition to do more. Expressing what he said is growing dissatisfaction amongst supporters with Members of Parliament (MPs) in the A Partnership For National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), Benschop said they “need to up their game.” The APNU+AFC represents almost half the electorate in the National Assembly.
Citing runaway corruption by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), return of extra judicial killings and drug lords, allegations of government officials taking bribe and involvement in money laundering, incompetence at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), public servants punishing, rising cost of living and many unable to eat three square meals, he said the “Opposition is not responding in the manner it should.”
The talk show host said he can count on his fingers the MPs who are working and even as they could do more, many are doing nothing. “There are 31 MPs. Who are they and where are they?” They accepted the work and if they cannot deliver, they should do the decent thing and resign, said Benschop.
Amplifying concern, the social activist said, “why must we wait once a week to hear from the Leader of the Opposition, or the Office of the Leader of the Opposition?” He calls this unacceptable. “The Opposition is not acting like a government in waiting. Every minute of the day the corrupt PPP is doing more harm to the country and supporters have to wait for a weekly press conference to hear what the Opposition has to say.”
People want to know the Opposition’s position on cash grants and if they don’t support the grants tell the people what the alternatives are, he said. “It has to be much more than telling supporters to take the money. Take the money now and after that what next?”
Asked what he would propose, the social activist who had a party that contested in the Local Government Elections, said:
1. Mr. Aubrey Norton, Leader of the Opposition, has to show he understands his role, knows what he is doing, and has a plan which he should make public;
2. Norton needs to settle internal divisions in his party. The party [People’s National Congress Reform] has many people with skills who are not in leadership and I am sure if approached will gladly serve but the leader has to put his ego beneath his feet and reach out.
3. Norton needs to establish working relationships with religious organisations, trade unions, non-governmental organisations, private individuals, and develop a national plan that will include and help everyone.
4. The Opposition needs to talk with experts who understand issues and use them as spokespersons to attack and expose the PPP’s lies, corruption and mismanagement.
5. There is a need for better field organisation. The Opposition needs to do more outreach, going to the people in every nook and cranny. Less of social media and more of physical outreach. If the poor people can’t afford to buy bread, they won’t waste money buying data. The engagement should be more meaningful, not just walking about, and where promises are made they should be delivered.
6. Mobilise the forces- the faithful, bring in new ones, and go into the PPP strongholds as the PPP is going into theirs. PPP supporters are suffering too.
7. Substantive parliamentary agenda. There should be greater vibrancy to issues not just on topical (hot button) issues and depending on sound bytes. The Opposition has better brains than the PPP, they must use them, and respond to the government with more seriousness and earnestness.
8. The Opposition must be humble enough to accept they don’t know it all and reach for help.
“That’s my recommendations for now, which are subject to review. People want to feel the Opposition is fighting for them, fighting to save the country from a corrupt cabal, and has to plan that will include the people. Right now, people are not feeling that,” said Benschop