Journal of the South African Society of Archivists

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The Role of the South African Human Rights Commission to Records Management in the Public Sector in South Africa

Makutla Mojapelo, Mpho Ngoepe


Records management plays a significant role in ensuring accountability, transparency and good governance. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is a democratic institution responsible for the promotion of accountability, transparency and good governance in the public sector through various forms such as investigation, reporting, and recommendations. While the regulatory role of records management in the public sector is the responsibility of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa (NARSSA), it would seem this responsibility is cumbersome for the organisation as several scholars concur that the public sector is characterised by poor records management. As a result, NARSSA is unable to support governmental bodies on managing records properly. Given the position of SAHRC in government and its mandate as set out by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, this institution is able to hold the state accountable for their actions, unlike NARSSA. This study investigates the role of SAHRC to records management in the public sector. Qualitative data were collected through interviews with purposively selected participants from SAHRC, as well as content analysis of documents such as strategic plans, operational plans, and annual reports. The study established that SAHRC can play a role in records management through regulating access to information legislation. Although the study established that records management is a key enabler to information access, the SAHRC had little or no interaction with the NARSSA.  The study concludes that there is a need for SAHRC to develop a memorandum of understanding with NARSSA for the purpose of fostering proper record-keeping in the public sector.

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