Most Ugandans consider Labor Day as a Day for formal employers and employees. This perception leaves the Ugandans in the informal and self-employed sector at the peripheral lines of the Celebrations.
I therefore join the former and the latter groups in recognizing the importance of Labor Day.
In reorganizing the above, I join those in the informal sector and the self-employed, especially in the urban areas, running small and medium business in rented spaces in the various corners of different towns, who are observing the Day celebrations but amidst fears and uncertainty to what is likely to happen to their business when the corona virus eclipse clears.
As a result of Covid- 19 measures that involved the closure of “non-essential business” in malls, arcades and commercial houses, traders who rent space to run these businesses (tenants) went on a mandatory “stay at home” for an unknown period to a point in time when this measure will be relaxed. Never the less, as we stay home, certainly the rental charges are accruing day by day, against stagnant business.
So one would ask; will this rent arrears be payable or not?
The business puzzle before Government, Tenants and Landlords is that; As Tenants, we are expecting a waiver of the rent payable for at least the recent past three months, the Landlords are expecting to receive accrued rent over the past period, and Government is expecting that this crisis will solve by itself without their input, which I think is a hoax and a myth.
Although the economy exhibits a capitalist sphere, forces of demand and supply will at least fail to work on this forthcoming dilemma. Unless intervened, scuffles, property confiscations, legal suits, loss of business, and other unfortunate situations, is anticipated to be the trajectory path.
We can join Government in the labor Day celebration for this year if at least we see that it taking measures aimed at addressing the anticipated rent bubble explosion, which might make our labor go to waste, and also undermines the labor in the informal and self-employment.
How does the Government think of engaging the land lords so that they can offer rental waiver to the tenants for the period March – May 2020 (3 months)? What about giving a rental tax waiver to landlords for the Financial Year 2019/20 if there is proof that they actually offered a rental relief to the tenants? And how about the concept of giving an allowable deduction to the landlords at the time of declaration of their income tax returns. I think more can be thought of in this line, to give hope to our fellow tenants while considering also the landlords.
We shall all celebrate our labor if government appreciates our labor.
Author: Buwembo Habib
FDC National Secretary for Labor, and Human Rights Activist