Strategies for preservation of digital records in Masvingo province of Zimbabwe
Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have been embraced by a number of public institutions in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe as part of the government’s drive towards e-governance and improved service delivery. This has resulted in the generation of large volumes of digital records. Currently, the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ), which is mandated to preserve all types of records, is at the moment unable to ingest digital records from public departments due to a lack of adequate digital storage facilities and skilled manpower. The records creating agencies in Masvingo have been left on their own to deal with the digital preservation conundrum. This qualitative study explored the strategies for preservation of digital records in the Masvingo province of Zimbabwe. Data were gathered through interviews augmented by observation and document analysis. Research data was manually processed and thematically analysed in line with the objectives of the study. The study established that public agencies in the Masvingo province were failing to guarantee long-term preservation and security of digital records due to a lack of supportive legislation, standards, policy guidelines, budgets, adequate and conducive infrastructure and skills. This has resulted in swathes of digital memory being lost. The study recommends the adoption of trusted digital repositories (TDRs) that are compliant to the OAIS standards, close cooperation between records-creating agencies, the NAZ, information technology (IT) experts and the academia in tackling digital preservation challenges, and the development of preservation policies and guidelines, as well as continuous training and provision of budgets to cater for preservation of digital records. In the absence of infrastructure, the NAZ should consider cloud computing for preservation of digital records as an interim solution while observing legal obligations.