Definitions for government terms, listed alphabetically.
Abalone - An edible sea-creature with an ear shaped shell lined with mother of pearl. Abalone is an endangered species.
Abuse - Abuse can mean any kind of harm, including physical abuse (such as hitting), sexual abuse (such as rape) or neglect, where there is a duty of care which is not met; for example a duty to a child by a parent (such as the parent not feeding the child).
Accrual system - A system used to share a couple's property if they divorce. All income and assets acquired during the marriage are shared equally on divorce.
Act - A law passed by the national or provincial parliament. Members of Parliament vote on a draft law, called a Bill.
Ad Hoc Committee - A committee that is created for a specific, defined purpose and that exists for a limited period.
Administration - In government, this refers to the parts of government that implement laws and are responsible for the day-to-day running of the country. It is also called the executive branch of government.
Administrative accountability - Administrative government officials are held answerable to parliament and to the public for performing their duties in a democratic and constitutional way and for performing the tasks assigned to them by law.
Adoption - Adoption is a way of ending the legal relationship between a child and the child's biological parents. Adoption creates a new legal relationship between the child and the child's adoptive parents.
Adult Learning Centre (ALC) - An educational facility where Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) courses are offered.
Affidavit - A sworn statement signed in front of a Commissioner of Oaths. It can be used as evidence in court.
Affirmative action - A policy of correcting past inequalities. For example, hiring people from previously disadvantaged backgrounds in order to create a representative workforce.
Affirmative procurement policies - A policy of buying goods and services in a way that benefits previously disadvantaged communities and individuals. For example, government has a Preferential Procurement Policy that takes into account the gender and race of persons applying to provide services to government.
African Renaissance - "The rebirth of Africa": this refers to a movement to promote Africa's resources and culture and so build the economies of African countries and improve the quality of life for all Africans.
Agricultural Research Council (ARC ) - Public entity that studies questions relating to agriculture and creates new products and services for the agricultural sector.
For more information visit the ARC website.
Aids - "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome", a serious, usually fatal, disease of the immune system caused by the virus HIV. It results in a severely weakened immune system that causes the patient to be susceptible to opportunistic infections (like TB, pneumonia or cancer). It is transmitted by exposure to contaminated body fluids, especially blood and semen.
Aids orphans - These are children under the age of 15 or 18 whose mothers have died of HIV/Aids. The child may or may not be HIV positive.
Alien species - These are animals and plants that have "invaded" and become established in areas where they do not usually occur. They can have a negative effect on other plants and animals and the environment.
For example, Port Jackson is a plant that was brought here from Australia . It uses so much water that indigenous plants die out.
Annual report - A report that reflects an organisation or government body's financial and non-financial activities for the preceding year. It usually includes an annual audited financial statement. In the government, an annual report gives an indication of how well a department was managed and if it met its targets.
Ante-nuptial contract - This is a contract that is entered into before marriage. It sets out what will happen to the couple's property and money if they ever get divorced.
Antiretroviral (ARV) - These medicines are used to treat HIV positive people, and include AZT and Niverapine. They do not cure a person of HIV but prevent the person's immune system from becoming weak as a result of the virus.
Antiretroviral treatments - These medicines are used to treat HIV positive people, and include AZT and Niverapine. They do not cure a person of HIV but prevent the person's immune system from becoming weak as a result of the virus.
Apartheid - "Separateness", the policy of the National Party Government in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. The government tried to keep race groups separate by forcing them to live in different areas, go to different schools etc. White people were regarded as the superior race.
Appeal - A challenge to a higher body against the decision of a court or other decision-making authority.
Arbitration - A process of solving a dispute. A third person is asked to hear the two sides of the story and then make a decision.
Assistive devices - Things that people use to help them overcome physical disabilities, for example wheelchairs or hearing aids.
Asthma - Ongoing inflammation of the lungs that causes breathing difficulty; Often caused by allergies.
Audit - An inspection that checks the accuracy and completeness of records.
For example, a financial audit will check a Department's financial records to make sure that income and expenditure is recorded and that all taxes are paid.