South Africa criticises UK decision to end direct aid

Justine Greening Justine Greening made the announcement about South African funding at a conference in London

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The South African government has criticised the UK after it announced it would stop direct aid in 2015.

UK ministers said their relationship with South Africa should now be based on trade and not development.

But South Africa said it had not been properly consulted over the move and it would have "far-reaching implications".

The aid programme, currently worth £19m a year, is focused on reducing the mortality rate among women giving birth and supporting businesses.

At its peak in 2003, the UK's aid for South Africa was more than £40m.

'Mutual co-operation'

International Development Secretary Justine Greening made the announcement at a conference of African ministers and business leaders in London on Tuesday.

"South Africa has made enormous progress over the past two decades, to the extent that it is now the region's economic powerhouse and Britain's biggest trading partner in Africa," she said.

"We are proud of the work the UK has done in partnership with the South African government, helping the country's transition from apartheid to a flourishing, growing democracy.

"I have agreed with my South African counterparts that South Africa is now in a position to fund its own development.

"It is right that our relationship changes to one of mutual co-operation and trade, one that is focused on delivering benefits for the people of Britain and South Africa as well as for Africa as a whole."

But South Africa said there had been no "proper consultations" about the move.

"This is such a major decision with far-reaching implications... and it is tantamount to redefining our relationship," the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said in a statement.

"The UK government should have informed the government of South Africa through official diplomatic channels of their intentions."

In response, UK officials said they had had "months of discussions" and "many meetings" with their South African counterparts prior to the decision.

Labour said ministers had taken the "wrong decision" and that the South African authorities had "contradicted" Ms Greening's version of events.

Shadow international development secretary Ivan Lewis said it was important to maintain financial help to "middle income" countries like South Africa, which he described as "strategically" very important.

"This looks like a serious breach of trust with one of our most important strategic partners. Justine Greening must explain why she is saying one thing about her conduct while the South African government is saying another," Labour said in a statement.

"Behaving in what looks like a high-handed and patronising fashion towards South Africa is no way to treat one of the world's key emerging nations and is not in Britain's national interest."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Africa doesn't need more money, it needs less corruption. Africa is a wealthy continent but anyone that blindly gives money (even clothes to clothes banks that go to Africa) unwittingly fuel the corruption that goes on there and thus perpetuates the status quo. If money is to be given, it's better spent on ridding the continent of its dictators and fascists first!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    A very small step in the right direction but we need to stop ALL of the £11bn aid until we are back in the black as a country. It isn't our responsibility to feed, house or generally look after the population of this planet, just our OWN citizens many of whom are struggling.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    We give money to South Africa?
    Is it April fools day again? Because we are the fools!
    How about they give us some of their diamonds or gold in return"

    I believe we may already have "acquired" plenty of South African diamonds & gold in centuries gone by....quite forcefully.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    What a great opportunity to regurgitate the tripe that’s printed in the Mail
    So now we can look forwards to page after page of ill informed nonsense that masquerades as a debate

    Overseas aid bashing

    Prisoner bashing

    Benefit scrounger bashing

    We must have an election in the offing

    So thanks BBC on behalf of the Tory party

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    A country that is rich in gold and diamonds shouldn't be crying out for external help based on historical injustices. Every country has these. The trouble is now that we're out of its way, South Africa will probably resolve its issues for more quickly than we'll resolve ours!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Perhaps we can get Lloyds bank to help us with the shortfall for the next two years..... (Where DID they get that much money - oh - us, the "customers")
    Or perhaps we can follow the USA on it's global march to world domination and invade South Africa.

    Then we can get our money back....

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Aid isn't the same thing as donating to charity. There are many different forms of aid. But remember as moronic as our governments are even they won't give away millions if it's not going to benefit us. If you want decent relations with emerging economies aid is one way to get them, good idea as we seem to be intent on insulting our EU trade partners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    If Politcians had the courage to ask the electorate if they specifically wanted their taxes to be spent on foreign aid in the current climate. I suspect the answer would be no. But that smacks of democracy!

    Some on this HYS will disagree but they are free to give their own money if they wish via NGOs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    At last some sense. Now cut the aid we gave all together. We simply cannot afford it. This country is broke. We are borrowing money to gave aid to other countries that to me is bonkers

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    10. BadlyPackedKebab

    'Only £19m ?'

    Indeed. I suspect it was more like £190m. £19m would hardly keep more than a couple of dozen professional aid workers in First-class airline tickets, school fees, air-conditioned villas, servants and chauffeur-driven Toyota Landcruisers for a year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Once we've sorted out all of the children barely living above the bread line, elderly people struggling to pay their heating bills at winter, spiralling unemployment and massive national debt here, then we can send aid to other countries. Currently we are in no financial position to do so.

    Also, given the state of public services in South Africa the money is not going where needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    We could of had two funerals for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Pronouncement one of Tories trying to move right of UKIP.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    We are a nation massively in debt giving truckloads of cash to countries that don't have debt, and clearly it is of huge detriment to our own economy. While we are in surplus, great, send money out, but borrowing money to give away is a fool's strategy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Only £19m ?

    Foreign aid consultancy companies have received more than a £bn in fees over the last decade or so......for them charity certainly does begin at home ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Just need to add Pakistan and India to the list .....

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Good. It's about time we stopped the lot and I have have zero guilt in saying that. It's not my job to look after every person on this planet - I don't even believe we should try to as it's a stupid endgame. I imagine most of these donations over the years have in effect been trade bribes anyway. If you want to give of your own free will then great, states shouldn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Why not stop


  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    About time too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    We give money to South Africa?

    Is it April fools day again? Because we are the fools!

    How about they give us some of their diamonds or gold in return.


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