Prof Jaap de Visser

South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Development

Jaap de Visser has been associated with the Institute since 1998 in various capacities. He served as Director of the Dullah Omar Institute from 2013 to 2022, and spearheaded the conversion and renaming of the Community Law Centre into the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights. He is a Professor of Law at the University of the Western Cape's Faculty of Law. His research, teaching and consulting focuses on multilevel government, local government, good governance and federalism in Africa, and has published widely on these topics. He is currently the acting National Research Chair in Multilevel Government, Law and Development, succeeding Prof Nico Steytler. He is awaiting the National Research Foundation final decision.

His most recent research includes topics, such as -

  • climate change and multilevel government
  • city authority for public transport
  • combating corruption in local government
  • intergovernmental fiscal relations
  • interventions in failing local governments
  • coalitions in local government
  • food security and local government
  • transparency in municipal procurement
  • council governance

With Prof Nico Steytler, he curates Local Government Law of South Africa, South Africa’s leading textbook on the legal framework for local government. He is co-editor of the Local Government Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter on local government in South Africa.  

He has overseen and conducted postgraduate and contract research on multilevel government in South Africa, Mozambique, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Lesotho and Kenya.

With Prof Tinashe Chigwata, he convenes the Masters in Law, State & Multilevel Government and the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Law, focusing on local government. He is co-convener of the annual African School for Decentralisation, to be convened in Addis Ababa in September 2023.

Prof De Visser has consulted for many national and international organisations, including the Worldbank, UNHABITAT, USAID, Forum of Federations, GIZ, South Africa’s Department of Cooperative Government, the City of Cape Town and many other local authorities in South Africa. He was lead consultant on the Western Cape Land Use Planning Act of 2014, and on the review of Lesotho’s Local Government Act under contract with the UNDP.

He is Vice-President of the International Association of Centres for Federal Studies, alternate board member of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and member of the Advisory Board of the Centre for Transformative Regulation of Work. He also serves on the editorial boards of the Hague Journal on the Rule of Law, the Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance and Decision.

He holds an LLB and an LLD from Utrecht University where he taught from 2002-2006 and an LLM from the University of the Western Cape. He is rated by the National Research Foundation at B-2 ("considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his/her recent research outputs").


Recent publications: 

Click here for a complete Curriculum Vitae