The conceptual context and operational architecture of South Africa’s constitutional
regime remains a terrain for political contest. The public discourse on the
nationalisation of the mining industry is embedded in the theoretical dichotomy
of an interventionist vis-á-vis a regulatory state. The outcome of this public contest
may have fundamental consequences not only for state-societal relations, but for
the durability of the constitutional compromise of the early 1990s which became
the dominant master narrative from which the greater good has been dispensed.
This article reflects on the statutory framework of the mining industry as well as
the legal and constitutional interpretations which are currently contested as part
of a public discourse. This discourse is subjected to a risk assessment index of
political, economic and social conditions prevailing during July/August 2011, and
key indicators of risk for this period is made reference to, in substantiation for the
values added in the risk index. The aim of the article is to merge the public contest
on nationalisation with the political risks involved in an interventionist state.