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Speaking at an international conference of business leaders and African ministers in London, Greening said: “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 cooperation and trade.”
However, the announcement has drawn sharp reaction from South Africa with officials at the ministry of international relations in Pretoria terming this as “surprising” and “unilateral”.
“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,” says Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the department of international relations of South Africa.
South Africa believes that the SA/UK Bilateral Forum which is scheduled for some time this year is the “appropriate forum” to discuss this issue.
“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,” said Monyela.
The United Kingdom’s bilateral programme in South Africa, currently worth £19 million per year will focus on finishing projects that are already underway, a statement by UK’s department for international development said.
Recognising the progress that South Africa has made over the last two decades, Greening said that the two countries will begin a new relationship based on sharing skills and knowledge, not on development funding.
South Africa now accounts for over a third of sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) and is a member of the BRICS group of emerging economies and the G20.
“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”, said Greening.
Britain announced the termination of a similar aid programme to India last year.
India, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, is the biggest recipient of bilateral aid from the UK in the past several years.
The South African department of international relations has meanwhile said, “This unilateral announcement no doubt will affect how our bilateral relations going forward will be conducted.”
The BRICS Post