The first restriction that the South African Native National Congress (SANNC) aimed to contest was the 1913 Land Act, an urgent issue that affected all black people. The SANNC sent petitions and deputations, but were not able to prevent the passing of the Land Act. Another deputation was sent to London and was received by the Secretary of State for Colonies, Lewis Harcourt, in June 1914. It however, became clear that the British were no longer prepared to involve themselves with the internal affairs of South Africa.

After World War I (WW1), it was decided to send yet another deputation to London. The president of the SANNC, Sefako Mapogo Makgatho, felt that the 1914 deputation had been a failure because the British had been distracted by WW1. A petition was drawn up, where SANNC declared their loyalty to the British during the war, and put forward their grievances. However, once again the British said they were not prepared to interfere in the internal affairs of South Africa.

The SANNC did manage to win the sympathy of some, and Lloyd George discussed the matter with Jan Smuts, stating that their legitimate grievances should be dealt with. Hereafter, SANNC realised that deputations to Britain were futile, bringing the first phase of SANNC action to a close.

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