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 244.

    I'm starting my own party. The 'Use Your Nog Party'. Our policies include: Not giving foreign aid until our budget deficit is addressed, foreigners must have insurance to use NHS for anything other than emergencies, Leave the EU and set up a sister European Union which only includes economically stable countries, Close up huge tax loop holes exploited by massive corporations. I'm here all day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    I still fail to understand why we borrow money to give to other countries

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    This is great news. Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country & giving it to the rich people of a poor country. Our government has no right to take your hard-earned wages from you by force, if necessary, & gift your wages to foreigners.

    The best help we can be is to set an example on free trade, sound money & civil liberties to them. We have work to do, let's keep it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    If a country seeks its independence, it ought to be big enough to stand on its own two feet.
    Once it is independent, it has the duty to look after and enrich the lives of all its citizens.

    If another country is feeding them money they are not independent.
    Are they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Nothing will change for the less well off. The ANC government does not care about growing the economy for all. They make empty promises to get the votes. The only decent President we ever had with far more moral fibre than the entire current government put together was Mr Mandela. He tried to do so much with so little after the apartheid government left the country in a mess & in debt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Just what do we get in return for all this aid we hand out ??????

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Why do we continue to pay India for another 2 years you may ask when they state aid is no longer required?

    Answer = The ConDem's have a target to reach in money given away and without continued payments they won't meet their expenditure target.

    Therefore we continue aid not for people but for targets!

    Any more confetti Cameron? If so send it my way please.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Why do we give anyone money. What don't the government set up a company in the UK to make/assembly food, health or water treatment components. Set the company up in a run down area such as Hull and give local workers a job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    Pakistan Next. Stop all their Aid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    I dont mind the concept of giving aid to deserving foreign countries. But I do object to the complete lack of accountability and transparancy that has allowed such a large proportion being routinely used to underpin corrupt governments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Its about time we started cutting back on foreign aid everywhere, at least until we get our own house in order.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    When will our dead head politicians stop taking everything said by think tanks as Gospel and start listening to its electorate.
    Democracy is being usurped by these parasites and only minority issue's seem to be addressed.
    Look at the consultancy fees we pay each year helping our inadequate politico's make their mind up.
    A scam on the greatest scale sums up Foriegn Aid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Some pretty selfish comments on here. People talking about sorting A&E wait times here first - what some people in Africa would give to even have an A&E! I just wonder how they'd feel about it after swapping lives with someone in Ethiopia for a week.

    I agree however that the focus should be tackling corruption not just sending money blindly - we need to help them become self-sustaining countries

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Time to stop all overseas aid, and start again, if we need to contribute make sure it is for the right reasons. We could do with spending money on the large areas of Britain that are in desperate need of funding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Well it's a start.... How about now ending the aid we give to both India and Pakistan both countries no longer need it would save us a fair bit of money too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    This must be done for ALL AFRICAN countries. AID CORRUPTS.



  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    As someone who grew up in South Africa from the 70's I can say its about time the UK stopped "giving aid" to the coutry. South Africa has been the "economic powerhouse" in Africa since Apartheid and exile from the European community. They are practically a 1st World country already. 20 years of giving them £14-40m per year... Invest in the UK first and fix unemployment

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    This is a sensible decision given the current financial environment we and other countries are facing. I hope the review goes further and includes India, China and other rapidly industrialising nations who as part of that process need to fund their own internal programmes. We must support our own population's needs first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    As South Africa follows Zimbabwe's path from well-run country to economic basket case I was reminded of this splendid obituary in The Telegraph. Something for future South African students to look forward to...

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    The UK's relationship with South Africa should now be based on trade and not development, Ms Greening will say.

    Well, personally I think such relationships should be based upon decency and human rights, but the reality is, is that we have to deal with whoever no matter their decency, as without them we cannot survive as a nation because we need so much of what everyone esle has got.


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