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Laws to Help Local Communities: Prof De Visser Appointed as Member of the Advisory Committee of the SA Law Reform Commission

Author: Aidan van den Heever & Nicklaus Kruger

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, has appointed the Director of the UWC Dullah Omar Institute, Prof Jaap de Visser, as a member of the advisory committee of the South African Law Reform Commission.

(Published - 6 September 2018)

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, has appointed the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Professor Jaap de Visser, as a member of the advisory committee of the South African Law Reform Commission.

The purpose of the appointment is to participate in the South African Law Reform Commission's Project 146 on the Review of Regulatory, Compliance and Reporting Burden Imposed on Local Government by Legislation.

“I am delighted to be able to make a small contribution to making municipalities more agile and improve service delivery, particularly in disadvantaged communities that really bear the brunt of poor service delivery,” Professor De Visser says.

Professor De Visser, Director of UWC’s Dullah Omar Institute, holds an LLB and an LLD from Utrecht University and an LLM from UWC. He is a B2-rated scholar with South Africa’s National Research Foundation and the co-author of Local Government Law of South Africa. His research, teaching and consulting focuses on multilevel government, local government, good governance and federalism in Africa.

The project aims to identify regulatory, compliance and reporting obligations imposed on local government by legislation that hinder its ability to discharge its constitutional mandate, and to make recommendations on how identified unnecessary, excessive or inefficient burdens can be streamlined, reduced or abrogated.

“The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs requested the Law Reform Commission to assess which laws unnecessarily constrain the ability of municipalities to deliver services,” explains Professor De Visser.

The recommendations should aim to improve the current legislative framework in order to ensure efficiency of local government and enhance its ability to focus on delivering services to communities.

“The question is: where does red tape get in the way of projects being realised - and what can be done about that? For example, where do procurement rules, government protocols and decision-making procedures stifle innovation? Where do governments contradict each other and paralyse municipalities? And what can we do about that?”

Professor De Visser’s role will be to use his knowledge and experience in local government law to advise the commission on how to approach this.

For over two decades, the Dullah Omar Institute has worked tirelessly in the cause of human rights and democracy, working to realise the values enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution.

“Over the past twenty years, the Dullah Omar Institute has developed a considerable presence in local government law, advising municipalities, civil society and government,” Professor De Visser says. “This appointment bears testimony to that.”

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