11/06/2014. Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel during the Arms Procurement Commission hearing in Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Cape Town - Trevor Manuel has called for an end to the ongoing war of words surrounding the University of the Western Cape.

Manuel, former minister in the Presidency and chancellor of Cape Peninsula University of Technology, said he was “deeply pained by the tragic turn of events” at UWC.

The university has in recent months been rocked by a feud between vice-chancellor and rector Brian O’Connell, and Brian Williams, UWC council chairman and convocation president, which has left its reputation in tatters.

“Obviously, the current vortex of negativity at UWC has to be stopped,” Manuel said, adding he did not feel it was the result of “a fall-out between two Brians”.

“My sense is that there is a structural problem. Running a university is a complex task, and one that can best be performed by a competent vice-chancellor. In support of that role there are positions both of honour and accountability – the chancellor, the president of convocation and the chairperson of council are such positions.”

Manuel said there were three golden rules which appeared to have been broken.

“Firstly, these are truly positions of honour, and not platforms for control. The intent has to be unashamedly service and support and not control.

“Secondly, for good reason, a raft of institutional support demands that these positions be occupied by separate individuals. Thirdly, all of these positions must be distinctly non-executive – participation in any executive function, including procurement, blurs the necessary dividing line.”

He said these rules should be clearly stated, meaning Williams would no longer be able to wear both hats.

Cosatu’s provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich this week said Williams was “unsuitable” and did not have the “emotional intelligence” to lead the university.

Williams, through his lawyer Rael Gootkin, said Ehrenreich’s comments were “unfounded and malicious”.

[email protected]

Cape Times