South African President Jacob Zuma says he will implement the long awaited Land Reform Programme this year in which foreigners will be banned from owning land, and locals will be limited to gazetted land sizes.

President Zuma first announced the position in a state of the nation speech on Thursday.

More than two decades after the end of apartheid, land is still concentrated in the hands of a largely white minority, and remains a sensitive issue.

The government is under growing pressure to put more land in the hands of the country’s black majority.

“Land has become one of the most critical factors in achieving redress for the wrongs of the past,” said Mr Zuma, elaborating on the plans on Saturday.

“In this regard, the regulation of land holdings bill will be submitted to parliament this year.”

In the future, foreigners will only be allowed to lease land, not to own it, he said, adding that local farmers would not be able to own more than 12 000 hectares. Currently very few blacks own land while white farmers still own much of the best farmland a generation after the end of racial apartheid.

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