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Archivists and record-keepers are the unsung heroes of our heritage. They carefully document our past, so helping us to trace our journeys.
THE importance of preserving records and saving documented memory was emphasised at a National Archives Week event held at the Workers Museum in Newtown on Wednesday, 9 May.

ElizabethProper record-keeping is important, says Elizabeth MbathaThis year, the theme for the week – which runs from 7 to 11 May – is “Archives for the past, the present and the future”. It is designed to reach members of the public who do not know about the existence or function of records and archives.

Record-keepers and archivists joined learners from Kaalfontein and Eqinisweni secondary schools, in Ivory Park, at the Joburg event, which was organised by the City and the department of sports, art, culture and recreation.

Elizabeth Mbatha, the deputy director of Gauteng libraries and archives, said the day was an opportunity to send a message to the public about the importance of proper record keeping and how it could help government bodies to circumvent disclaimers and corruption charges. “Archives serve as instruments of accountability and transparency through records management,” she pointed out.

Archives comprise all out of service documents of 20 to 30 years old, and are often significant to the historical development of an organisation. Records are original documents that offices in the government sector or private institutes consider worth preserving.

“Active records are kept in our municipal offices and government departments to promote accountability and transparency. These records can then be accessed by the public.”

Gauteng ArchivesArchives: making a difference to the publicLebogang Mokoena, an archivist from the South African National Archives, said archives and record management were essential because they played a critical role in maintaining awareness of how the present was shaped by the past. “It also places an onus on the archival authority as the regulator to provide service delivery to enable compliance.”

Matshediso Dlamini, of the Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa, urged record managers to regularly monitor the management of records within their organisations. “It is important for every organisation to undertake monitoring activities regularly,” said Dlamini.

The record manager at Development Bank, Doctor Mphalane Makhura, said the records management profession was often undermined by companies where record managers were referred to as filing clerks. “Filing is not our core business but [is only] a small task of records management,” he explained.

After the celebrations, certificates and gifts were awarded to record-keepers and archivists for good performance. Other activities for the day included exhibitions by local authors and tours of the Workers Museum.

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