The Environmental Case Law Index is a collection of judgments from 10 African countries on topics relating to environmental law, both substantive and procedural. The collection focuses on cases where an environmental interest interacts with governmental or private interests.
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This was a counter-application by the fifth respondent (now applicant) against first and sixth respondents (respondents), for an order declaring a mining lease between the Basotho Nation and another company void. The applicants also prayed for costs in the event that the application was opposed. The applicant claimed that there was non-compliance with the procedures prescribed by sections 6 and 7 of the Mining Rights Act of 1967, as amended, when granting the lease.
The court determined whether Order No. 1 of 1970 which was enacted after the coup d'etat of 1970 abolished the office of the King and his executive power of allocating land or interest in land as contended by applicants.
The court noted that the applicant quoted Makenete v Lekhanya and others C of A (CIV) 17/1990 in support of the position that the order abolished the office of the king. However, it was noted that this position was only referred to in the obiter, (not the main holding) which failed to consider the effect of the Regent (Assumption of Office) Notice of 1970.
The court then interpreted the definition of regent to be “one who is invested with royal authority by”. Consequently, it was found that the notice appointed Queen Mamohato Seeiso to be regent for the duration of the King’s absence from Lesotho. It was further held that the king’s office had not been abolished since the queen was appointed to be his regent for the duration of his absence.
Accordingly, the application was dismissed.
The fifth respondent was created by statute for the purpose of implementing a project design to dam water. The dam was built and flooded the area that the appellant had obtained a mining lease for, making mining impossible. The government then unilaterally cancelled the appellants’ lease. The appellants filed an application to set aside this cancellation. Their application was granted.
The fifth respondent filed a counter-application to set aside as null and void the mining lease on the grounds that the mining lease was a nullity because it had allegedly been concluded without a recommendation by the Mining Board and without prior consultation with and approval of the Principal Chiefs within whose areas of jurisdiction the mining lease area fell. The fifth respondent further submitted that such recommendation and prior consultation and approval were peremptorily enjoined by s 6 of the Mining Rights Act No. 43 of 1967, so that non-compliance with both, or with either, of these requirements invalidated the granting of the mining lease by the government to the applicants and rendered it a nullity.
The court considered whether the mining lease complied with requirements of the Mining Rights Act. It found on the facts that the fifth respondent had successfully discharged the onus of proving that neither of the abovementioned requirements had been complied with before the lease was concluded. Accordingly, the lease was set aside. Costs were awarded in favour of the respondent herein.