‘1913 cut-off date for land claims should be pushed back’

Jacob Zuma says while the majority of people were formally dispossessed, greater losses were suffered.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma says he believes the 1913 cut-off date for land claims should be pushed back.

Zuma was addressing the National House of Traditional Leaders' annual sitting in Parliament earlier today.

He told the gathering that while the majority of the country's people were formally dispossessed by the 1913 Land Act, greater losses were suffered during the 1800s.

"I believe as a son of a black man, being black, that we need to shift that cut-off date. But you need to find a reasonable way of addressing the issue within the Constitution."

He says lack of access to land is the basis for the poverty, unemployment and inequality endured by mostly black people today.

President Zuma has also criticised land reform legislation that his own party brought to Parliament and that he signed into law.

Deviating from his prepared text, Zuma addressed the country's traditional leaders directly.

"The very law that we have today to claim is lopsided against the black people. It's very difficult for you to prove that this land belonged to your ancestors and very easy for the landowner to say you can't have the land. That's how the law is."

Zuma signed the restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act into law in 2014.

He says he believes the 1913 cut-off date for land claims should be made earlier, saying the bulk of the dispossession of the black majority took place in the 19th century.

His speech will be debated by traditional leaders in Gauteng on 22 March.