STEVE SWART, an African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Member, is originally from Fish Hoek, Cape Town. He is married to Louise and has three children studying at the University of Stellenbosch. He studied for his BA and LLB degrees at the University of Stellenbosch, and was then admitted as an attorney, practising that profession for about fifteen years before being elected to Parliament in 1999. Whilst at Parliament, he obtained his B.Econ (Hons) degree through University of the Western Cape. This assists him in his work in the Finance Committee, which deals with the national budget, global and domestic economic growth figures and similar issues.
Political background: I was inspired to move across to Parliament by my strong belief that individuals can make a significant difference to the future, and that, particularly given my legal background, I could impact positively at the stage of law-making. This was rather than being limited to implementing the laws produced in Parliament if I continued to practise the legal profession. The Christian Democratic philosophy that underpins the party is an established political philosophy emanating from post-World War Europe, and one of its central tenets is the promotion of freedom of religion and the promotion of Judeo-Christian values.
What does my job involve? As one example of the values just mentioned, I was at the forefront of the introduction of the principles of restorative justice that mark the Child Justice Bill, as an alternative to retributive justice. I regard all my efforts on the legislation as being fully worthwhile if even one child (who is not a danger to society) is kept out of jail, as opposed to being incarcerated and subjected to influences that can lead that child to a future of crime. In 2000, I addressed an Ancillary Meeting on Restorative Justice at a United Nations Crime Conference in Vienna. Other significant pieces of legislation on which I have worked in Parliament have included the new sexual offences and civil marriages legislation, and the recently-passed Constitutional amendments relating to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court of Appeal, as well as the Superior Courts Act, and legislation combating trafficking. I am currently involved in debating the Legal Practice Bill.
In addition to my work as one of the longest-serving Members on the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, (arguably one of the busiest of the Parliamentary committees), I also serve on the Joint Constitutional Review Committee and the Standing Committee on Finance. Previously, I also served on the Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs, Transport, and Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
I was one of the drafters of the Western Cape Provincial Constitution, and was one of the attorneys representing Parliament (then sitting as the Constitutional Assembly) during the certification proceedings in the Constitutional Court for the Final Constitution.
Highlights of my constituency work: As a committed Christian, much of my work brings me into contact with communities in outreach and Church activities, but in addition to that I serve a constituency in Botshabela in the Free State, and constituencies in the Western Cape, from Parliament. Most of my work involves responding to phone enquiries and giving of legal advice, but there are a number of other education, information and outreach activities.
I am passionate about finding the best solutions that serve the common good. Others have commented that one of my most noticeable traits is my ability to follow the “peace-making” route to persuade others not merely to compromise, but reach a truly suitable outcome. With my legal background, I try to present compelling and persuasive legal arguments, as opposed to emotive, short-term or narrow party-political approaches that do not take the process forward.
My Message… As one of the most experienced Members of Parliament, I am committed to promoting Christian Democratic values in Parliament, and ensuring that the legislation produced by Parliament addresses the common good of society.
For more information about Mr Swart, visit his profile.
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