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 144.

    forty years ago when I was told to eat my cabbage and that the starving in Africa would be glad of it I thought send them it then . now 40 years later they are still starving so it follows that aid just isn't working or the problem wouldn't exist now, so stop giving and allow these countries to sort themselves out .

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Another attempt to recoup money to cover up the mistakes of this incompetent govt,having squandered our money like drunks on a Friday night on their vanity projects at home: wasted £100m on Police Comm elections, £40m on West Coast Fiasco, £12m on Boundary changes £75m on AV reforms.etc. At home looking after the "have Yachts" at the expense of the "Have Nots" now doing same Internationally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    'If the Tories get a 2nd term of office ...'

    The sheeples alternative in the red (light blue) corner hardly inspire economic confidence with their recent history and current, 'making it up as they go along but didn't really think that through properly', ideas!!

    They're both as bad as each other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    I think this is another one of the many areas of public spending that needs root and branch reform.

    I agree that the UK should be making a positive aid contribution to places in the world that need it, but my impression of the current process is that too much aid ends up in the pockets of corrupt officials in foreign lands, or goes to countries that no longer require this kind of support.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Not totally sure why South Africa should be singled out. It is still one of the countries in Africa to be more optimistic about, warts and all. And it has thankfully not gone down the 'Zimbabwe' route. Continued gentle encouragement seems appropriate, whether that is through aid or something else. I think you'll find that China is not pussyfooting about in these countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Why is the BBC censoring comments on Islamic terror in the west???

    The would be bombers from Birmingham and the Boston bombing clearly shows the barbaric nature of these groups.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    What does "money" for development actually mean.

    It means we help other nations people to better themselves & become competitors, which ultimately means damage to our own nation as better developed nations can better afford same as us, greater demand equates to higher prices for our people
    Would Virgin, or Lloyds give FREE money to a poorer competitor no because its crazy & ultimately suicidal

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    If the Tories get a 2nd term of office ...

    ... we'll be asking South Africa for aid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    @132. Badger . Well said, the shame for me is that after leaving many of these countries we just left and joined the EU and left them to fend for themselves. We should have continued to have influence in these countries to help them develop. Our benefit system was brought in off the back of the Empire. We should also be doing more in ex-colonies like Rhodesia to stop Mugabe and help the people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Why wait, stop it immediately?

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Another example of the demise of the UK's reputation on the World stage- being led by a downgraded Minister who presided over the West Coast Fiasco telling us all what a "robust" process she was managing, no doubt in a few years after this dog of an incompetent govt are booted out someone will have to start repairing their damage. They have turned UK to a Third World Country & UK may need aid soon

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    You only have to look at GDP per capita to see that South Africa is now wealthier than much of the rest of Africa, hence why aid to the area has stopped. It also show however India and Pakistan still are, and so we should continue aid to them. This is aside from the fact that this country made its money off their backs across hundreds of years of imperialism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Disaster aid - yes.

    Cash for the pockets of irresponsible leaders of other countries no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    South Africa is a relatively wealthy country, certainly by African standards & even on the world stage. Why is the UK giving it money anyway?

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    charity begins at home and it should stay here until the economic situation is better . why are we giving aid to countries that have nuclear weapons and space programs . or even to countries that actively hate us .

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    We should examine, with compassion, all of our aid programmes. I don't understand why it's necessary to give away money to countries who don't need it or don't use it wisely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    62 stevie

    ' risen from less than 50,000 under the labour Government to 350,000 a Week under the Tories.'

    I was a cynical as anybody about Cameron's 'Big Society' idea but he was right.

    This is a wonderful example of local people in the famine regions of the UK coming together to help those who find that, due to crop failures and remote access, food is so much more expensive than other UK areas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    I've never had a problem with aid and charity but with 3 new food banks popping up every day in the UK and this government squeezing its own people on benefits and DLA then I think it is very wrong. You can't expect your own people to suffer just to keep making us look good and on agreements etc signed donkeys years ago when things were good over here. Things like aid should be checked yearly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    In describing the dependence syndrome and including corporations and politicians - which lot are the dependent ones? The corporations need favours from the politicians, and the politicians need favours come election-time and post-politics. Both lots could be said to be feeding off the other - all at the taxpayers expense.


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