Contemporary diplomatics of the High Court of Zimbabwe legal records and the preservation of their authenticity in the digital environment

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Bhebhe Mr. Sindiso (National Archives of Zimbabwe),

Archives are known to be places which house the documents which are original, authentic, reliable and genuine. It is from this understanding that the documents from archives are permissible evidence in most courts of law. Some of the documents kept at National Archives of Zimbabwe are deceased estate and civil records files which are sometimes used by researchers to settle citizenship disputes. The authenticity of these documents is mainly done through their provenance, signatures and seals. This paper will dwell much on the nature of these signatures and seals in the traditional paper-based environment. It will again study the provenance issues of these records. Most of Zimbabwean government departments are now slowly migrating from the traditional and manual way of doing business to the digital environment. The same applies to the High Court of Zimbabwe. It is of interest to see how the High Court of Zimbabwe will authenticate its digital documents especially the deceased estate and civil records files. This paper will try to suggest and show how some of the digital techniques for authentication can be used at the High Court of Zimbabwe so that when these documents finally land at National Archives of Zimbabwe there are diplomatically correct. Methods to be considered for the digital authentication are the ones suggested by Lazinger (2001: 91) that is encryption, hashing, digital time stamping and digital signatures. This paper will be based on literature review and case studies of National Archives of Zimbabwe and High Court of Zimbabwe.

References:

Lazinger, S. 2001. Digital Preservation and Metadata. Colorado, Libraries Unlimited

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