THE axing of aid to South Africa by the British government has
received an angry response from South Africa's
international-relations department, which says that consultation
did not take place.
The announcement was made on Tuesday by the International
Development Secretary, Justine Greening, at an international
conference of business leaders and African ministers in London.
Ms Greening said: "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. 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."
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Department for International
Development (DFID) said that the announcement followed "months of
discussions with the South African government". But Clayson
Monyela, spokesman for South Africa's international-relations
department, said: "This is such a major decision, with far-reaching
implications on the projects that are currently running, and it is
tantamount to redefining our relationship.
"Ordinarily, the UK government should have informed the
government of South Africa, through official diplomatic channels,
of their intentions, and allowed for proper consultations to take
Britain's bilateral development programme in South Africa, now
worth £19 million a year compared with a peak of £40 million in
2003, has been in place for more than 20 years, and will come to an
end in 2015. A statement from DFID said that the country now
accounted for more than a third of sub-Saharan Africa's gross
domestic product, and was a member of the BRICS group of emerging
economies, and the G20.
On Tuesday, the Shadow International Development Secretary, Ivan
Lewis, accused the Government of behaving in a "high-handed and
patronising fashion" towards South Africa.
A spokesman for Christian Aid said that the decision was
"regrettable", and called for "concerted efforts . . . to address
inequality and root causes of poverty in South Africa. . . Its land
and people are not being used to the full, and sustainable
development is a long way off while the spectre of inequality
haunts the land."