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Cape Town - Despite - or maybe because of - the importance of the subject to different factions of the Democratic Alliance, the party's federal congress on Sunday failed to agree on the wording for a policy resolution on the subject of land reform.
Delegates instead agreed to refer the topic for further mastication by the federal council, the next-highest policy making body.
According to Gail Dous-van Wyk, from Gauteng, more time was spent discussing the subject than any of the other ten resolutions before the group discussing the economy, land and resources. She told delegates that there had been much argument over wording, much of it technical, and so she proposed the reference back.
As part of their effort to defuse the disagreements, the group of delegates split the original resolution into two one to deal with questions of mainly rural land tenure and the other to deal with mainly urban problems.
Before the congress decided to put off a final decision it was clear that the party was taking a stern stand against the Communal Land Rights Act (Clara).
The resolution presented to congress called for the act to be repealed, and urged the party to promote a shift away from communal they called it feudal land tenure to individual land ownership with titles.
The resolution also firmly called for preservation of the willing-buyer willing-seller concept, although it also said the party fully supports the
reversal of the effects of "cruel land dispossession under apartheid".
The motion wanted to see greater support for new land-owners through public-private partnerships and equity-share schemes. Because the unapproved resolution expressed specific support for the willing-buyer willing-seller principle later reference to it in a resolution on nationalisation was removed.
While considering the nationalisation resolution, the congress also declined to call for the halting of debates on the subject in any legislature of the nation and delegates also refused to support a call for President Jacob Zuma to stop any further debate on the subject before it starts.
"As liberal democrats we should not be suppressing debate," protested one delegate. "It goes against our principles.
"I think it very imprudent to suggest the president must suppress debate on nationalisation, whilst we, as the Democratic Alliance, are totally opposed to nationalisation we should not suppress debate.
"We should be the champions of debate, because debate encourages education. People learn from debate."