Golding is popular with many reporters at e.tv and its news channel eNCA; they look up to the former trade unionist turned serial entrepreneur. One reporter said there was sadness at the loss of Golding and his wife Bronwyen Keene-Young.
“They were two very important and supportive leaders [who] believed heavily in the right for us to be independent.” Another remembered how Golding would walk through the newsroom, greeting journalists by name, and party with staff at the end-of-year functions.
Others have seen a darker side. “Don’t cross Marcel Golding … he’ll thump you,” warned one former journalist.
He’s also a driven man, who has accumulated an astonishing amount of wealth and influence since turning from union matters to capitalism. Apart from his role at Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI), he is a nonexecutive director of Tsogo Sun Holdings, nonexecutive chair of Johnnic Holdings, chair of KWV and nonexecutive chair of the Celcom Group, besides an array of other business interests – including an 8% stake in the R18-billion HCI empire.
In pre-democracy days Golding rose through the ranks of the National Union of Mineworkers to become its deputy secretary general – alongside Johnny Copelyn, his longtime comrade in union federation Cosatu (Copelyn in the clothing workers’ union). From 1994 Golding served a term in Parliament. With his “national service” done, he and Copelyn went on to start a series of business ventures, the most successful of which has been HCI.
The two men tell different stories about Golding’s ousting: Golding claims editorial interference and Copelyn insists it was thanks to inappropriate share dealings. Those in the know agree these issues are red herrings, and the real reason for the spectacular falling-out are still murky.
Golding has lost all employment positions at e.tv and Sabido, but he retains his 8% shareholding at HCI, the largest individual shareholder at the company. So it is unlikely this is the last they’ll be hearing from him.
He declined answering any questions about what his future plans may hold.