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South Africa angry at axing of UK aid

03 May 2013


"Powerhouse": Justine Greening praised South Africa's economic progress

"Powerhouse": Justine Greening praised South Africa's economic progress

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 place."

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."

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