Hague: S. Africa knew British aid cutoff was coming

May 1, 2013 at 2:39 PM

LONDON, May 1 (UPI) -- British officials Wednesday defended the decision to cut off aid to South Africa in 2015.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said South Africa now has a growing economy and should be seen as a success story, The Guardian reported. He also suggested officials in Pretoria, who have reacted angrily to this week's announcement, have had plenty of warning.

"Discussions have been going on about that for some months -- it therefore shouldn't have been a surprise," Hague said on BBC Radio 4. "No doubt there is some confusion, or bureaucratic confusion about that perhaps on the South African side. But I am not going to fling accusations about that."

International Development Secretary Justine Greening, who announced the change in policy Tuesday, also cited South Africa's economic turnaround. South Africa last year had a growth rate of 2.6 percent, The Daily Telegraph said, while Britain's economy was stagnant, growing only .2 percent.

The Telegraph said the bulk of British aid to South Africa, about 19 million pounds ($30 million) a year, goes to initiatives to fight the spread of the HIV virus and to combat malnutrition. Documents posted on a British government website also show aid to help the South African government stimulate economic growth and contributions to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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