Question NW668 to the Minister of Arts and Culture”

Share this page:

25 March 2019 - NW668

Profile picture: Bozzoli, Prof B

Bozzoli, Prof B to ask the Minister of Arts and Culture”

1. What budgeted amount, differentiated into capital and operational, was allocated to (a) the National Archives and (b) each provincial branch of the National Archives in each for the past 10 years; 2. What budgeted amount, differentiated in capital and operatonal, has been allocated to (a) the National Archives and (b) to each provincial branch of the National Archives for each financial year in the 2019/22 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework; 3. In what ways will the budget allocations for the 2019/22 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework assist the archives in (a) employing more highly trained and qualified staff members, (b) organising documents, (c) digitizing documents, (d) upgrading infrastructure and (e) dealing with the backlog of stolen, lost and incorrectly stored documents?


1. (a) The budget allocation for the National Archives for the 10 financial years is as follows:

(b) The National Archives and Records Service of South Africa does not have Provincial Branches. In terms of Schedule 5 Part A of the Constitution, Provincial Archives are a competency of each Provincial Government. Therefore, those nine Provincial Archives report exclusively to their respective legislatures and receive their allocations from their respective Provincial Treasuries through their Provincial Members of the Executive(MECs).

2. (a) .The total National Archives budget allocations for the 2019-22 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework is captured in the table below.


Medium-term expenditure estimates









Compensation of employees

37 119

40 891

44 114

Goods and services

11 651

12 291

13 010

Total Operational budget

48 770

53 182

57 124





Capital budget

15 000

65 000

80 000

(b) The response to 1b applies as well.

3. (a) The department has appointed GTAC to undertake a workstudy exercise for the whole department including the National Archives. The National Archives is a Chief Directorate of the department. The workstudy is a review exercise intended to determine the organizational structure, human capacity, systems and procedures needed for the department to achieve its objectives. It aims to examine the overall functioning of the DAC including aspects such as the organisational structure, systems, operational processes, and employee morale for the purposes of improving service delivery. Also to ensure that the Department stays within the allocated compensation budget ceiling. It is after the results of this workstudy exercise whereby the issue of employing highly skilled and qualified staff will be looked at. It is my commitment to resource the National Archives with skilled staff in order to take the National Archives into the stage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

(b) In order to make records available for access by the citizens of South Africa it is necessary to arrange and describe the records after they have been transferred to the National Archives Repository. This means that they are sorted in terms of a file system used by the creating office, after which they are listed and a finding aid compiled. This finding aid is then available for researchers to use to identify the records that they are interested in. A new system called AtoM (Access to Memory) has been implemented by the NARSSA to assist the Arrangement and Description Archivists to ensure that the work that they do is available quicker to researchers, not only in the NARSSA Reading Room, but also online.

(c) The NARSSA acknowledges digitisation as strategy for preservation and access. During the period preceeding your question, the NARSSA developed its own Digitisation Strategy which was approved in 2013. The purpose of this strategy was to guide the process of digitising archival material. The first digitisation project implemented by the NARSSA was the Rivonia Trial Records (commonly known as Percy Yutar Papers). The total cost of the project was R161 040.00 The Nelson Mandela Foundation contributed R100 000, while the NARSSA paid R61 040. The project digitised 12 000 pages of records.

The National Automated Archival Information Retrival System (NAAIRS) was revamped from 2014 to 2017 in AtoM. 'AtoM' is an acronym for 'Access to Memory'. AtoM is a web-based archival description software that is based on International Council on Archives (ICA) standards viz. Encoded Archival Description, to make it easy for archival institutions to put their archival holdings online. The total amount for this upgrade was R10, 088, 232.37. Currently the public have access to the digitised Rivonia Trial Dictabelts on the NARSSA Website which is a result of the Revamping of the NAAIRS Project.

(d) The NARSSA has been allocated R160 M for the 2019-22 Medium Term Expenditure Framework for the construction of the new archival building. The allocation received by NARSSA will be utilised for the construction of a new modern and technologically advanced archival building, on the same and adjacent site of the existing Hamilton Street building; and the refurbishment of the existing facilities. Consideration will be given to combining the needs of an Offices of Record, National Film, Video and Sound Archives, Presidential Archives and a Records Centre together with those of the National Archives on the same site that are physically linked together in addition to off-site storage facilities for specialised collections.

(e) The NARSSA is not aware of any stolen or lost records. NARSSA has the following measures in place to ensure the safekeepeing of records.

  • No researchers are allowed in the strongrooms where records are kept
  • No visitors to the building are allowed in the offices of officials
  • No bags are allowed in the Reading Room
  • All strongrooms are locked and only designated officals can access the strongrooms, they are required to sign a register whenever access is needed.
  • Researchers only have access to records in the reading room where they are under constant supervision by staff
  • The Reading Room and other areas in the building are also monitored by CCTV cameras
  • Client Offices (Government Departments) are required to complete a removal permit for records that they take from NARSSA. Client offices can only remove records that they have created themselves.

Over the many years that the NARSSA has operated, some records were misplaced. This is due to various factors including misplacement in incorrect boxes after use by researchers, and audits that are not conducted regularly due to staff shortages. The holdings of the National Archives Repository stretch over 66 000 linear kilometres, it is almost impossible to locate misplaced records, as was shown when six (later 5) interns were appointed to try and locate misplaced records identified by the Public Protector after they received a complaint from a researcher. The interns worked for one year and although they were able to locate a number of misplaced files, one is still outstanding. They were however able to find a number of misplaced files that were not previously known, including records related to Land Restitution e.g. file NA/15/6 parts 1 and 3 created by the magistrate Mapulaneng (Bosbkorand). The contract period for the interns lapsed on 4 March 2019, the work has slowed down considerably due to a lack of capacity.

To rectify the situation the NARSSA will have to invest in an Electronic Archival Tracking System, such as RFID, whereby each file will have to be coded and the system will automatically track the file in the NARSSA (A similar system was introduced in the UNISA Library a number of years ago). This system is also connected to the security system of the building and would alert officials if a file is removed from the building without permission.

It is without a doubt that the NARSSA is keeping its records safe, regardless of all the challenges experienced.



Source file