VENTURES AFRICA  –  The Okahandja municipality and South African Breweries (SABMiller) are blaming each other for a two-year delay in the construction of a proposed US$34 million brewery at the town.

SABMiller’s country representative for Namibia, Cobus Bruwer, said “the delay is as a result of the rezoning of land by the Okahandja municipality”. He also hinted that SABMiller is “committed to building a new brewery in Namibia.”

In April 2010, SABMiller and its Namibian subsidiary disclosed plans to build a US$34 million brewery on 7.2 hectares of land just outside Okahandja, with  construction of the 220 000-hectolitre-capacity brewery, returnable bottle packaging line, and warehousing facilities due to start in the second half of 2010.

However, to date there has been no construction activity at the site. SABMiller Namibia blames this on the Okahandja Municipality.

Okahandja municipality CEO Ripanda Meroro, in response, says the delay in construction is due to SABMiller as the rezoning was done in November 2011.

Meroro says although SABMiller did apply for the rezoning of the land, the Okahandja municipality was informed by the Ministry of Local Government that such rezoning was not necessary as the land was already zoned for “large industrial” purposes.

According to him, all that was done in terms of the rezoning was that the zoning was changed from “large industrial” to “general industrial.” This was a relatively small conversion because the land was already zoned for industrial use, he explained.

Meroro further quipped: “The delay is on their [SABMiller] side, they have to start now, there is nothing standing in their way and we are eagerly awaiting them.”

SABMiller owns a 60 per cent share in SABMiller Namibia with the remaining 40 per cent held by Namibian partners in a broad-based black economic empowerment (BBEE) initiative.

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