Ratings downgrade looms large as parties debate budget

Parties earlier debated the budget tabled by Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan last month.

Picture: Facebook.

CAPE TOWN - Sharp differences over the medicine South Africa needs to get the economy moving and avoid a ratings downgrade to junk status have been laid bare in the National Assembly.

Parties today debated the budget tabled by Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan last month.

Gordhan was conspicuous by his absence - he's overseas meeting investors and ratings agencies to try and convince them his budget plans will cure the country's dire economic situation.

The debate took place amid the battle between Gordhan and the South African Revenue Service Commissioner Tom Moyane and Moody's decision earlier today to put South Africa on review for a downgrade.

Standing Committee on Finance chair Yunus Carrim slammed the Democratic Alliance (DA) for what he called "soundbite opposition for opposition's sake".

"The DA just wants to see the economy collapse so they can get a few votes."

The DA's David Maynier accused the African National Congress of policy incoherence and allowing politics to trump hard economic choices.

"Let's be honest, the real problem is government itself doesn't have a common purpose and it's not working together to avoid junk status."

The hanging axe of a ratings downgrade and its likely impact on all South Africans was one of the few points where there was agreement.