08 May 2013

The UK's Aid Conundrum in South Africa

The United Kingdom announced this week it is going to eliminate its aid to South Africa by 2015.

South Africa is one of the world’s ‘emerging’ — or BRICS — nations. The decision follows in the footsteps of Britain’s decision to wean India off UK aid in favor of promoting domestic development to take hold. The British government says it would rather refocus its energy toward investments in these nations.

South African officials, as well as some aid organizations, appear none too happy with this turn of events.

UK Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening unveiled the plan in aspeech on Tuesday.

“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,” she said.

Some people were surprised and disappointed by the move, but the real shock is that the most important partner says it did not agree. That would be South Africa. Greening’s remarks made it appear that the two countries arrived at the agreement together. A sort of mutual divorce.

It turns out that South Africa and the UK were not on the same page. South Africa’s Department for International Relations and Cooperation followed up the Greening announcement with their own statement.
The South African government has noted with regret the unilateral announcement by the government of the United Kingdom regarding the termination of the Official Development Aid to South Africa as from the year 2015. 
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.
According to the UK, the problem is a bureaucratic one rather than a disagreement between the two countries.

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