Gordhan gets thumbs up on R1.3 trillion budget

He pleaded with parties to set aside electioneering when it comes to matters of national interest.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's been given a vote of confidence in the National Assembly, where parties are voting on his R1.3 trillion national Budget.

Addressing the House, Gordhan kept strictly to the business at hand, making no reference to the distress he was caused by reports of his imminent arrest over an intelligence unit set up at South African Revenue Service (Sars) while he was still Commissioner.

Gordhan yesterday broke his silence on the weekend reports, labelling rumours and accusations about "espionage" activities at Sars as false and malicious.

He appealed to South Africans to protect Treasury staff serving the national interest "to the best of their ability".

LISTEN: Minister Gordhan speaks out amid arrest claims

Members of Parliament (MPs) from most parties today expressed their support for Gordhan, despite objecting to parts of his Budget.

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) David Maynier referred to Pravin Gordhan's appeal.

"Who do the National Treasury staff require protection from? Of course the answer is clear - President Jacob Zuma and his proxy forces, including the sugar daddies in Dubai, the peddlers of Project Spider Web and the wreckers in Cabinet who support him. And so we choose to stand against wickedness and support the National Treasury vote."

Gordhan earlier pleaded with parties to set aside electioneering when it comes to matters of national interest.

"All of us should be interested in avoiding a (ratings) downgrade, because it is going to be a downgrade that impacts on every single South African, regardless of the colour of the T-shirt that you wear".

The finance minister is at the forefront of efforts to persuade ratings agencies against downgrading South Africa's sovereign debt rating to junk status.

At the same time, the ANC says its concerned by the rate at which sensitive information is being leaked to the public.

The party has voiced its suspicions about the claim against the finance minister, which it says was planted to negatively influence decisions being taken by ratings agencies.

LISTEN: 'Strategy to intimidate Gordhan is damaging for SA'

Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa says whether or not investigations are underway, it's concerning that professional channels aren't being adhered to.

"If we don't do things properly, follow channels professionally, particularly from bodies like prosecuting authorities that have the authority to do all this work. For example, [the_ Sunday Times_ report], how come a newspaper got to know - even if it was true - that someone would be arrested and so on."