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 Prof. Jaap de Visser

Position: Director: Dullah Omar Institute
Department: Community Law Centre
Faculty: Faculty of Law
Qualifications: LLB (with distinction) Utrecht University
LLM (cum laude) University of the Western Cape
PhD Utrecht University
Tel: 021 959 2912


 Jaap de Visser has built up comprehensive experience in research, teaching and consulting in multi-level governance, human rights, intergovernmental relations, good governance and federalism in Africa.
He graduated with a PhD from Utrecht University on the basis of a thesis, examining the legal framework for development local government in South Africa. His main research interest is theHe taught public law at Utrecht University from 2002 until 2006. From 1999-2002, he was a researcher at the Community Law Centre. Prof. De Visser holds a doctorate in law and has published and presented papers locally and internationally in the fields mentioned above.
Prof. De Visser is co-author (with Prof Nico Steytler) of Local Government Law of South Africa, the leading text book on local government institutions in South Africa and also co-wrote chapters on local government in Constitutional Law of South Africa and the International Encyclopedia of Constitutional Law (in print). His work has been cited by courts in South Africa, including the High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court.
He is the co-convener of a dedicated Masters Programme on Multi-Level Government, Law & Development at the University of the Western Cape with students from across the continent. Prof De Visser has supervised doctoral and masters research projects on decentralisation in countries such as South Africa, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
As editor and contributor to the Local Government Bulletin he contributed more than 40 short articles to this quarterly newsletter on local government in South Africa.
He regularly advises local and international organisations and state organs on issues pertaining to local governance, provincial governance and multi-level government issues. He has acted as a consultant for the Worldbank, UNICEF, Forum of Federations, German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GIZ), South Africa’s Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, provincial governments in South Africa, the City of Cape Town and many other local authorities.
Prof De Visser has worked on international training, education and policy support assignments in countries such as Sudan, Ethiopia, Namibia, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe
 role played by multi-level government in building peace, deepening democracy and facilitating development.



Developmental Local Government: a Case Study of South Africa Antwerp: Intersentia (2005) pp. 3

Local Government Law of South Africa (with N Steytler) Durban: LexisNexis/Butterworths (2007)

Local Government Law of South Africa, Update 2009 pp. 200

Local Government Law of South Africa, Update 2010 pp. 38

Local Government Law of South Africa, Update 2011 pp. 200

Local Government Reform in Zimbabwe: a Policy Dialogue (co-edited with N Steytler & N Machingauta) Community Law Centre: Cape Town (2010) pp. 151

Water Delivery: Public or Private? (co-edited with C Mbazira) Utrecht: Institute of Constitutional and Administrative Law (2006) pp. 170

Journal articles

Chewing more than one can swallow: the creation of new districts in Uganda” in (2011) Law, Democracy and Development (Volume 15) (with D Singiza)

“Institutional Subsidiarity in the South African Constitution” (2010) 21 Stellenbosch Law Review 90 – 115

 “Political-Administrative interface in South African Municipalities” (2010) 1 Commonwealth Journal for Local Governance 86-101

"Developmental local government in South Africa: institutional fault lines" (2009) 1 Commonwealth Journal for Local Governance 7-25

“A perspective on local government’s role in realising the right to housing and the answer of the Grootboom judgment” (2004) 8 Law Democracy & Development 201-215

“Demarcating provincial and local powers governing regarding liquor retail” (2004) 19 SA Public Law 335-377

“Realising the right of access to water: pipe-dream of watershed?” (2003) 7 Law, Democracy and Development 27-53 (with J Mettler & E Cottle)

Powers of local government” (2002) 17 SA Public Law 223-243

Chapters in books

“Unfunded Mandates: directing subnational governments” in G Färber (ed) (2012) Governing from the center: the influence of the federal/central government on subnational governments Deutsche Förschungsinstitut fur Öffentlichen Verwaltung 135-156

“Cities and Climate Change: ex abundanti cautela – ‘from an excess of caution’?” in A Cartwright, S Parnell, G Oelofse & S Ward (eds) (2012) Climate Change at the City Scale Routledge: London pp. 25

“Career Patterns of National, Provincial and Local Parliamentarians in South Africa” in R Hrbek (ed) (2010) Legislatures in Federal Systems and Multi-level Governance Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft: Baden-Baden 151-158

“Republic of South Africa Local Development in an Uncertain Partnership” in J Kincaid & N Steytler (eds) (2009) Local Government and Metropolitan Regions McGill-Queen’s University Press: Montreal and Kingston pp. 20

“Local Government” in (2008) Stu Woolman et al Constitutional Law of South Africa Cape Town: Juta (with N Steytler) pp. 102

“Developmental Local Government in South Africa” in (2007) Chiroro B. & Matlosa (eds) Challenges of Conflict, Democracy and Development in Africa Pretoria: Electoral Institute of Southern Africa 176-202

Work completed

Local Government Law of South Africa, Update 2012 (with N Steytler) Durban LexisNexis/Butterworths 2012 pp. 100 (in print)

“Local Government in South Africa” (with N Steytler) in (2013) International Encyclopedia of Constitutional Law Kluwer (in print, due 2013)

“The use of property rates policies as an instrument for development - an analysis of South African policy, law and practice” in (2013) G Samson & P McKinlay (eds) New Century Local Government Commonwealth Secretariat (in print, due 2013)

"The role of ethnicity in the demarcation of internal boundaries in South Africa and Ethiopia" S Mangiameli (ed) Federalism, Regionalism and Territory Rome: Institute for the Study of Regionalism, Federalism and Self-Government (due 2013) (with N Steytler & Y Fessha)

Other publications

Service Delivery Protest Barometer (with D Powell) (2012)

Online barometer of trends in service delivery protests in South Africa

Important Legal Issues for Provincial Legislation dealing with Spatial Planning and Land Use (with S Berrisford) Discussion Document for South African Cities Network (2011) pp.29

The quality of local democracies: a study into the functionality of municipal governance arrangements Report for South African Local Government Association and German Agency for Development Cooperation (with N Steytler & A May) (2009) pp. 66

Intervening in Provinces and Municipalities: Guidelines for the Application of Sections 100 & 139 of the Constitution prepared for the Department of Provincial and Local Government (2007) (with N Steytler) pp. 54

Practioners’ Guide to Intergovernmental Relations Manual prepared for the Department of Provincial and Local Government (2007) pp. 97

Electing Councillors: A guide to municipal elections Cape Town: Community Law Centre (2000) (with N Steytler & J Mettler) pp. 52

Making law: a guide to municipal councils Cape Town: Community Law Centre (2000) (with N Steytler & J Mettler) (translated into Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Setswana and Sesotho) pp. 50 ​​​​​​​




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