The statement issued by the Communications Officer of the Albany Museum as published in the Grocott’s Mail, refers. The statement was a reference to myself as a member of the Board and was in response to the statement on my statement on matters of concern relating to the Museum, in particular the lack of action by the Province and lack of accountability on the part of the staff members following the serious burglary which occurred at the Observatory Museum. In my statement, I also expressed concern about the general state of the Museum specifying examples.
The statement as released by the Communications Officer, expressing criticism of me in my capacity as a Board Member, claiming that I am motivated by ‘’malice and vengeance’’ and accusing me of releasing ‘’false information’’ in connection with the Museum, is extraordinary. Normally, any such concerns on the part of a staff member/s of the Museum would be addressed to the Board and would not be made publically.
Immediately I became aware of the statement and before it was published by the GM, I wrote to the Chairperson of the Board, Mr Lindile Jela, demanding a retraction of the statement and reserved my rights in that connection. The Chairperson only responded after publication of the statement and following a meeting of the Board from which I was excluded, saying that the Board could not retract the statement as it was not the Board’s statement. The reply avoided the real issue, namely that the issuing of the statement by an employee of the Museum was irregular and wrong in principle. It is an issue which the Board is obliged to deal with and I am pursuing the matter..
In response to the statement, I completely reject the allegation that I am driven by ‘’malice and vengeance’’. The Board and its members are responsible for the Museum’s collection and staff members, including the Manager, are accountable to the Board for the general management of the Museum. Unfortunately, the Board is failing in several respects to fulfill that mandate partly because it presently comprises only 4 of its original members and has failed to co-opt additional members in accordance with its own decision made more than two years ago.
Clearly, I am now at loggerheads with the other members of the Board who appear to have adopted a united front in solidarity with the management and staff of the Museum and are unresponsive to requests by me for a closed Board meeting to discuss matters of concern in order to ‘’clear the air’’. It would appear that the other members of the Board want to avoid any criticism of the Province and staff members of the Museum as employees of the Province, possibly because of their political affiliations and the fact that they now receive a stipend from the Province for their services. I personally refused the stipend as we were appointed in an honorary capacity and I believe that we should continue to serve in that capacity in order to remain independent of the Province and of the Museum administration.
Board members should at all times attempt to foster and maintain good relations and co-operation with the Province, Museum management and employees but not at the cost of neglecting their primary duty which is to ensure that the Museum’s collection is properly curated and conserved and that the Museum is operating effectively.
The Museum is a public interest institution and the Board’s final responsibility is to the public. The current Board’s term of office is about to expire but in the limited time remaining I will continue to exercise my public responsibility whether or not that puts at loggerheads with the remaining members of the Board, the Provincial authorities, the management and staff of the Museum. I will not resign as a Board member and I will not be party to a cover-up of the state of affairs within the Museum, one which is not unique to the Albany Museum.