An Audi Q7 that the cash-strapped water and sanitation department bought its minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, three weeks before she was reshuffled, is gathering dust in the basement of government’s communications department building.

The black luxury car, with a recommended selling price of about R1.1m, was delivered on January 30, just weeks before Mokonyane was moved to the communications department.

Five months later, it has still not been paid for and remains unregistered and parked in the basement of the government’s Communication and Information System building, with a security guard stationed next to it.

City Press’ sister newspaper Rapport learnt that the water and sanitation department sent the car straight to the communications department so it could pay for it and explain why it was bought in defiance of austerity measures imposed by National Treasury, and for more than the prescribed R750 000.

Water department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau confirmed that the R904 488 owing on the vehicle had not yet been paid. He said Mokonyane ordered it in September last year and the “matter has been resolved”.

“We accept responsibility of paying for the vehicle because it was ordered while Mokonyane was the minister of water and sanitation. We will pay for it and it will be repaid in full by the department of communications,” he said.

“The reason for the decision was that Gugile Nkwinti, who took over as minister of water and sanitation, already had an official vehicle. There was therefore no reason to keep Mokonyane’s new vehicle.”

The rural development and land reform department spent R1.039m and R731 000 in 2017 and 2015, respectively, to buy two Audi Q7s for Nkwinti, which Ratau says he is still using.

But Rapport has learnt that the department of communications sees things differently. It is understood that it did not budget for the vehicle and has no use for it.

Mokonyane’s spokesperson, Mlimandlela Ndamase, declined to answer detailed questions, but said his minister ordered the car last year when her previous vehicle reached its limit of 150 000km and five years.

Ndamase would not say why the brand-new car had not been used and what became of the previous ministerial vehicle.

During his budget speech in May, Nkwinti spoke out against mismanagement and irregular expenditure in the department during Mokonyane’s term.

Last month, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu found that irregular expenditure in the department during the previous financial year had amounted to R6.4 billion.

In April he said Mokonyane had herself given instructions that there should be deviations from normal tender processes, which led to the over-expenditure that caused the department’s near collapse.

Who should pay for the car – the water department, the communications department or Mokonyane herself?

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