The UK will stop sending direct aid to South Africa in 2015, ending a policy that has been in place for more than 20 years.
The UK currently sends £19 million worth of aid per year.
Current projects will still be funded but bilateral aid will now end.
The relationship will change to one of "mutual co-operation and trade" rather than focus development.
The UK's International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced the move at a conference of African ministers and business leaders in London on Tuesday.
"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," she 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 co-operation and trade."
Greening's comments are at odds with South Africa, with its Department of International Relations and Co-operation saying there had been no "proper consultations" about the move.
"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," it said in a statement
. "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.
"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 ODA, would take place there and decisions about how to move forward were expected to be discussed in that forum.
"This unilateral announcement no doubt will affect how our bilateral relations going forward will be conducted.
"We are however looking forward to the SA/UK bilateral forum later this year to clear up this matter among others."
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