Conventional literature, which analyzes potential factors to determine aid approaches, initially focused on donor interests rather than recipient needs. Recently, this analysis is being replaced with new understandings that emphasize the importance of identities and norms. Once aid actors internalize these concepts, these identities and norms can both help to determine approaches to aid. This paper argues that the intensity of both interests and identities/norms may differ between donors as well as within donors, and it can also take on a variety of roles at different times. Hence this paper focuses on the roles that both the interests and norms of stakeholders take in integrating aid administration.
This paper analyses South Africa’s international aid approach, focusing on how and why the integration of its aid administration has stagnated. South Africa is not only a salient emerging aid donor individually but, at the regional level, is the only major donor on the African continent and, in a global sense, is the one member of BRICS from Africa. South Africa has been attempting to centralize and integrate its currently decentralized aid administration. Drawing on the sense of shared African identity fostered by the president, ruling party and foreign ministry, South Africa initially attempted to establish a centralized aid co-ordination mechanism—the South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA). However, the process of establishing SADPA has been stymied due to a number of factors: the change of president, corruption allegations against one president, the subsequent weakening of leadership, criticism by opposition parties, the economic recession and budget austerity, consistent economic interest in regional integration, and the indifference of the media and taxpayers.
The idea of an African identity, which puts considerable faith in solidarity with other African countries, is accepted in different ways by domestic actors, and support for it may rise or fall according to changeable political and economic situations. At this moment, arguments for the promotion of national interests in aid approaches are more common among aid-related workers than those for an African identity. Therefore, the relative power balance of actors is favorable to actors for South Africa’s domestic rather than external interests, causing the stagnation of integration of aid administration in South Africa. Therefore, it can be concluded that the integration of aid administration is a highly political process, although DAC recommends it be undertaken in a less politicized manner.
Keywords: South Africa, aid administration, norms, identities, power balance