South Africa’s post-Apartheid archives in danger

In an opinion piece for the Daily Maverick titled National Archives crisis: records of democratic South Africa could be lost – probably foreverIsmail Lagardien wrote on 15 June, 2015 that democratic South African archival records are in grave danger, despite model legislation in place to support their long-term preservation:

One research project, by Mpho Ngoepe, cited in the Archival Platform’s report, concluded that South Africa had in place some of the best legislative mechanisms in the world “to enable and audit government record-keeping”. Delving into the report, however, it is clear that between the legislation and the optimism of the 1990s, and the current state of affairs, “effective implementation and maintenance of records management systems” is desperately lacking. This, Ngoepe explained, could result in records management in government being marginalised “forever”. The key word, in my estimation, is “forever”…

Lagardien asserts that “Successive post-apartheid governments have presided over the neglect and deterioration of the county’s official archives in a manner that verges on criminality.”

More: the full report is available as State of the archives: An analysis of South Africa’s national archival system, 2014 (pdf) from the report home page.

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