People must be careful about the causes they support. They could be supporting causes which can turn around and bite them.
The political divisions in our country make hypocrites of many an otherwise principled person. The political divisions force us to make principle secondary to that of interests. What is in the interest of my group or that which I support is far more important that the principles which I would have otherwise defended and embraced.
Imagine that you have decided to rent a building from a landlord. You take up possession of the building only to later find out when there is a change in the landlord that the former landlord did not concur with some legal requirement of the rental agreement. Is it fair that the tenant should be punished for the failure of the landlord to keep his end of the agreement?
Almost all Guyanese would deem it an injustice for a tenant to be penalized for the mistake oversight of a landlord. They will argue in a real life tenant and landlord case that if it is the landlord who failed to do something that is required under law, then the tenant should not have to bear the consequences of the landlord’s mistake. Almost all Guyanese will stand on the side of the principle that the innocent should not pay for the guilty.
Yet if you transpose the above facts and make the tenant the PPP, there will be tens of thousands of prejudiced minds who will invert the very principle which they stand for and argue vehemently that the tenant, the PPP, is not entitled to any rights as a tenant of the State and should be punished for the failure of the State to do something which the State alleged was not done and which was required to be done by the State.
The government is arguing that certain legal requirements in relation to the lease granted to the PPP/C were not satisfied. This column does not concur with this argument made by the government.
But for the sake of argument, let us assume that the State in granting a lease for Red House, omitted to satisfy certain legal requirements. Let us accept what the government is saying. Let us assume that there were legal defects in the agreement. Does this give the right of the government to punish the group who in good faith would have entered into that agreement only to discover later than certain requirements were not fulfilled by the landlord, in this case the State.
Should someone in de facto lease of a State facility be expelled because the landlord failed to do what was legally necessary? Should a tenancy be squashed simply because the landlord failed to make good on his commitments. These are the legal questions which are likely to be determined by the Court in the case of the Red House.
These are not simplistic legal questions. They go to the heart of our understanding of the rights of tenants and the remedies which can be pursued.
The politics of Guyana is sadly reduced to a zero sum game. A win for the PPP, means a loss for the PNC and vice versa. But there are times when a win for one actually can mean a loss for the entire nation. The Red House case is fraught with such implications. It has deep implications not just for the possession of Red House but for the rights of all tenants.
If a landlord can simply quash a tenancy agreement on the grounds that the agreement made in his name was not properly executed and therefore null and void, then the rights of all tenants are threatened. If the landlord can give a tenant a mere 42 hours notice to remove then consider what this means for tenants throughout Guyana.
Those who are waving the anti-PPP banner in this present dispute may find themselves supporting a cause which has wider implications for all persons who are renting properties, be it from the State or private individuals.
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