Five Politician Buzzwords Decoded
With public speeches, from a president’s State of the Nation address to long budget and expenditure run-downs, there is always an air of mystery with the language. Suddenly, the politicians to sang, danced and kissed babies in order to attain votes forget that the people they serve are ordinary citizens who are just concerned about their country; people who want to know what is going on and where leaders are taking the country. These citizens, like you and I, want to understand more than just part of the speeches. Here we decode what buzzwords used in both State of the Province and Budget speeches mean.
What is “fiscal” and how does it affect things?
In budget speeches, the term “fiscal” always comes up and gleaning from context isn’t always enough to help the listener understand the meaning – I have understood fiscal to mean financial year and budget in the same speech. But it’s not too incorrect a deduction.
In a few words, “fiscal” relates to a country’s treasury dealings. From money collected through tax to means the money that treasury collects through tax. The very money that goes into running the country. Fiscal can also mean the money that treasury has collected and has to spend in a specific period.
Who are the poorest of the poor?
Many politicians like to invoke the “poorest of the poor” in their addresses; these people are said to need all the help and said political party is always happy to oblige. Often these politicians mean those who live below the poverty line.
How is the poverty (or bread – depending on the politician’s preference) line drawn?
In 2015 Statistics South Africa announced that the poverty line would no longer be R441 but rather R501 per month because the cost of living was no longer what it used to be. Statistics South Africa has three poverty lines: a food poverty line, which measures if people are getting the minimum required food as well as upper- and lower-bound lines that measure the total cost of living.
Can you turn an economic downturn the right side up?
Between 2008 and 2009, a bunch of smart Wall Street people made decisions that would plunge the world into years of financial turmoil, which continues unabated. Ever since, words like recession and the phrase economic downturn have been trendy.
An economic downturn is when economic activity slows down and can lead to a recession where there isn’t much economic growth over a period of time. If “recession” is dangerous territory, “economic downturn” is the warning sign.
How does a president fall?
As appropriation of the student movements of 2015 (Rhodes Must Fall and #FeesMustFall), opposing political parties have called for the president of South Africa to “fall.” But how would that look?
In Section 89 of the South African Constitution, a president can be voted out or impeached by the national assembly. It reads:
“The National Assembly, by a resolution adopted with a supporting vote of at least two thirds of its members, may remove the President from office only on the grounds of:
- a) a serious violation of the Constitution or the law;
- b) serious misconduct; or
- c) inability to perform the functions of office”
And indeed, you may be thinking, “that is not what happened with president Mbeki in 2008”. That is true: Mbeki was recalled by his part in terms of Section 102 of the Constitution:
“1) If the National Assembly, by a vote supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet excluding the President, the President must reconstitute the Cabinet.
2) If the National Assembly, by a vote supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the President, the President and the other members of the Cabinet and any Deputy Ministers must resign.”
Why do we raise points of order?
In the National assembly, the concept “point of order” has gotten a bad reputation. In general, it just means a member of Parliament is feeling uncomfortable with the direction the sitting is taking and wants to ask the Chair if the proceedings are correct.
Which political buzzwords and terminology have you always wondered about?