Management of email as electronic records in state universities in Zimbabwe: findings and implications for the National Archives of Zimbabwe
The administrative functions of state universities in Zimbabwe rely on and actively use email communication in their official business. These business emails have significant transactional, reference and decision making value which merits the need for their capture, retention and management as electronic records. Any efforts by state universities to manage emails as electronic records, more so as public records, will require the supervisorial guidance of the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) as stipulated within the National Archives of Zimbabwe Act of 1986. This paper presents selected findings from a Master of Philosophy study that surveyed six state universities in Zimbabwe in order to establish the state of management of emails as electronic records. The findings revealed indiscriminate strategies among officials in the separation of emails between records and non-records, the ineffective dependence on other institutional policies and reference to fringe legislation for the electronic recordkeeping of emails and the absence of recordkeeping professionals in email management responsibilities due to their limited ICT training and qualifications. These succinct findings render any recordkeeping interventions and long-term preservation strategies ineffective for the management of the emails as electronic records in the state universities. The paper proceeds to recommend a three-tier framework that will position the NAZ to collaborate with state universities in the development and implementation of email policies, establishment of statutory guidance and procedures for electronic records and professional training and capacities development of staff and the design or improvement of email management and email archiving systems.