Definitions for government terms, listed alphabetically.
Pan South African Language Board - Government body responsible for protecting, promoting and developing the eleven official South African languages.
Paralegal - A legal advisor or assistant who has some legal training but does not have a law degree.
Paramedics - Someone who is trained to give emergency medical assistance but who is not a fully qualified doctor.
Parental rights - The legal rights a parent has over their child, such as the right to custody of that child and the right to make medical decisions for the child.
Parliament - Also called the National Assembly, this is the legislative branch of government. It consists of elected representatives (Members of Parliament or MP's) and is responsible for creating new laws and amending or repealing old laws.
Parliamentary system - A form of government where elected representatives, through parliament, make the most important decisions, like creating new laws.
Passport - Official government document that certifies your identity and citizenship and permits you to travel abroad.
Patent - Legal recognition of ownership in an invention.
If you have a registered patent in an invention then no-one else can produce that item for a set period of time.
Pathology specimens - Biological specimens that are sent to a pathology lab to be studied to find out if the specimens are diseased, what the disease is, what caused it and how far-progressed it is.
Patient's rights - What patients can expect from medical practitioners; How patients should be treated.
Per capita consumption - The amount of something that is consumed by one person on average in a particular time period.
Performance plan - A document that outlines the key measurable objectives a department or organisation must achieve. In government departments, these objectives are often handed down to staff members and included in their personal performance plans. It is usually issued annually, with quarterly feedback on progress from staff members.
Permanent resident - A person who is not a citizen of the country and does not have a South African identity document but who has been granted permission to stay in the country permanently.
PERSAL - Department of Public Service and Administration Personnel and Establishment System database.
Place of safety - A temporary home where children can stay if they have no one to look after them and the state hasn't finally decided where they should be placed.
Policy - Formal guidelines for how government decisions should be made or how programmes should be implemented.
Poverty alleviation programme - Government plans to reduce poverty. They include grants and job creation projects.
Preferential procurement - An government affirmative action policy that encourages government departments and agencies to buy goods and services from previously disadvantaged individuals or businesses.
Presidential system - A system of government in which the most powerful political position is that of the president.
Primary health care - Basic health care that includes teaching people how to live healthily (eg, eating healthily and basic hygiene) to prevent illness and disease.
Private sector - The part of the economy that is owned by private individuals and is not under government control.
Probation Officer - Probation officers are social workers who carry out work in the fields of crime prevention, treatment of offenders, care and treatment of victims of crime, and working with families and communities.
Procurement procedures - The process that is followed when government departments buy goods or services. This includes tendering and contracting.
Proportional representation - A system of government where the number of seats in parliament held by one party are proportional to the number of votes that party received in the election. Different from a constituency based system where the winner in each area gets a seat in parliament.
Proudly South African - A campaign to promote locally produced goods and services. Local companies can register with the campaign and display the Proudly South African Logo on their products and advertising.
Provisional taxpayer - Businesses or individuals that don't pay tax every month who instead pay all their 2 or 3 times a year.
Provisions - The sections in a piece of legislation dealing with specific items.
For example, it is a provision of the BCEA that employees must receive a pay slip from their employer.
Public Administration - The parts of government that implement laws, provide services to the public and are responsible for the day-to-day running of the country.
Public entity - An institution that operates separately from the national, provincial and local government and in which the State has a material financial interest.
Public nuisance - Behaviour that interferes with the rights of the community by causing damage, annoyance or inconvenience in a public place.
Public participation - Process which allows members of the public to voice their opinions and become involved in decision making.
Public Protector - The constitutional institution charged with investigating complaints of corruption and unlawful actions by government officials or civil servants.
Public sector - The part of the economy that is owned by the state or that it is communally owned, including the national provincial and local authorities and public entities.
Public service - Also called the civil service, this is the part of government that provides services to the public, for example ensuring access to water and sanitation.