Three years into democracy and South Africa was still making history – a new Constitution, a new anthem and a new venture for the IDC.
Two historic events dominated the year in 1997 in South Africa. The country adopted one of the most progressive constitutions in the world and a new national anthem reflective of its diverse cultures was introduced.
The new Constitution came into effect on 4 February, superseding the Interim Constitution of 1993 that guided South Africa through its transition to democracy. Following that, South Africans came together again to write a national anthem that would incorporate five languages. On 10 October, a shortened, combined version of Nkosi Sikelel'iAfika, The Call of South Africa and Die Stem became the national anthem, uniting all citizens in one song.
It was a time of transition, as the strife of the early 1990s wore off. In 1997, aviation company Aerosud approached the Industrial Development Corporation to help with funding a project to upgrade its capacity to manufacture interiors for civilian aircraft.
Established in 1990 to redesign and update military aircraft, in 1995 Aerosud diversified into the commercial aviation market to design galleys and other interior systems for civilian aircraft. In the early 2000s, the company embarked on a major expansion programme, with IDC again providing several rounds of funding to allow the company to upgrade its facilities. In 2005, the corporation sold its shareholding – acquired during a previous transaction and warehoused on behalf of black shareholders – to Phatsima Aviation.
More recently, the IDC approved funding for the establishment of a broad-based workers' trust. The initiative is aimed at directing the company's broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) compliance actions towards broad-based beneficiation for its staff, ranging from education and training to social welfare activities.
Aerosud's main priority now is to ensure the company ramps up production volumes, including building and capital equipment expansion and the training of new staff. At present, it makes parts for original equipment manufacturers including Airbus, Boeing, Labinal, Spirit and Aero Systems.
It recently won a tender to supply components for Airbus Military's new generation A400M airlifter, which will raise production at the company by 30%. As a result, there is potential for between 150 and 200 additional skilled jobs. Another crucial concern for Aerosud is repositioning the company on such matters as BBBEE compliance to benefit from the government's many industrial development incentives.