Britain in South African aid row

Britain has become embroiled in a diplomatic row with South Africa after announcing it will scrap £19 million in annual overseas aid to the country from 2015.

Hague blames aid spat on 'bureaucratic confusion'

William Hague said Britain will not "continue to give aid to countries that ... have growing economies". Credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Foreign Secretary William Hague has defended the UK's decision to cut aid to South Africa, while attempting to ease relations with the country's angered officials.

Mr Hague said Britain and South Africa had discussed the decision "for some months", in response to claims from Pretoria that the UK had not gone through the official channels.

Justine Greening's announcement "therefore shouldn't have been a surprise", he told Radio 4's Today programme.

"No doubt there is some confusion or bureaucratic confusion about that perhaps, on the South African side, but I'm not going to fling accusations about that," Mr Hague said.

On the aid cut, he said: "Britain has helped to improve matters in South Africa but we don't continue to give aid to countries that are raising their incomes, that have growing economies."

Mr Hague said he was "sure" the confusion could be cleared up at the countries' upcoming annual bilateral forum.

South Africa: UK avoided proper protocol to cut aid

The South African government have accused their British counterparts of failing to go through the proper channels before announcing an end to the country's annual £19 million payment in Official Development Aid.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation said it had noted the UK announcement "with regret", adding that the "major decision" had "far reaching implications on the projects that are current running" in South Africa.

A statement from the department added:

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, and the modalities of the announcement agreed on.

We have a SA/UK Bilateral Forum which is scheduled for some time this year and the review of the SA/UK strategy which includes the (Official Development Aid) would take place there and decisions about how to move forward were expected to be discussed in that forum.

The department said there was "no doubt" that the UK's announcement "will affect how our bilateral relations going forward will be conducted".

But it said it would use the forthcoming forum to "clear up this matter among others".

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UK angers South Africa with end to £19m yearly aid

Justine Greening said Britain was changing its relationship with South Africa to one of "mutual co-operation and trade". Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Britain has become embroiled in a diplomatic row with South Africa after announcing it will scrap £19 million in annual overseas aid to the country from 2015.

International Development Secretary Justine Greening sparked an angry reaction from Pretoria after declaring the country was now "in a position to fund its own development".

South Africa's Department of International Relations and Co-operation said Britain's decision to pull the plug on aid was "tantamount to redefining our relationship".

Foreign Secretary William Hague has this morning played down the spat, blaming it on "bureaucratic confusion".

UK to stop giving direct aid to South Africa in 2015

The UK's direct aid to South Africa will end in 2015, International Development Secretary Justine Greening will announce.

The Government's aid programme to South Africa is currently worth £19 million a year, down from its peak of more than £40 million in 2003, and has focused on reducing the mortality rate among women giving birth, as well as supporting businesses.

Mr Greening will tell a conference of African ministers and business leaders in London tomorrow that the relationship will change to one of "mutual co-operation and trade".