Golding just has the golden touch
Former MP and media mogul turns his hand to non-profit tuition
MARCEL Golding is one of the country’s most respected businessmen.
The former politicianturned media mogul has earned his stripes in both the political and business sectors.
He also helped build freeto-air channel e.tv into a multibillion-rand operation.
But since his muchpublicised departure from e.tv as its chief executive in 2014, the Capetonian has kept out of the media spotlight.
His life, though, has been an interesting one. Golding, 56, grew up in Crawford during the 1960s. He attended Belthorn Primary and Alexander Sinton High, which he describes as “a very prestigious sporting school, but also a good academic school in that it produced quite a lot of top students”.
As a teenager, Golding dreamt of becoming a professional footballer. “I played top soccer. By the age of 15, I played WP and South African schools,” he said.
But in 1975, his dream was shattered after he broke his leg: “I was walking and then a car whipped me off the road on the kerb in Thornton Road. I was very lucky.
“That put pay to my dreams of becoming a footballer. And then I focused on my academics.”
In 1976, Golding became the president of the student representative council at Alexander Sinton. A year later, he enrolled at the University of Cape Town. “At the time, students (of colour) were still required to have a permit,” he said.
“I studied the most famous subject at the time called CAGL – Comparative African Government and Law.
“I completed my studies there, I tutored for a while at university, then went into the union movement via writing for the South African Labour Bulletin, which at the time was a prestigious journal.
“I started as the editor of the labour union newspaper in 1985.”
In 1986, Golding was elected as deputy secretarygeneral of the National Union of Mineworkers, and was re-elected twice.
In 1993, he was asked by Pallo Jordan to help with the ANC election campaign for the following year.
Golding wrote speeches for Nelson Mandela, and spent most of his time “on the campaign trail (in the lead up to the elections)”.
“I travelled most weekends with Madiba around the country. In 1994, when I was elected by our union to be the one candidate to go to Parliament, I went with the 20 Cosatu candidates that went to Parliament,” he said.
Golding left the mineworkers’ union in 1994 and became a MP.
He served as chairperson of the mining and energy committee until 1997, as well as the chairperson of the audit commission.
Golding established the Mineworkers Investment Company and assumed the role of chairperson.
“I left with Johnny Copelyn. He was the Sactwu (Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union) guy. We both left Parliament to list the first trade union-controlled investment company on the JSE,” he said.
In 1998, Golding set his sights on the media-business world. He helped establish a consortium before organising a bid for e.tv. It received the green light to broadcast later that year.
“When we won the (broadcasting) licence, I was the deputy chair of the consortium (who owned
However, his more interesting acquisition has been a university, Cornerstone Institute, a private, non-profit higher education institution in Woodstock.
“At the time when I was approached it was in fairly deep financial trouble. And then we decided to take it, with all its problems and obligations, and try to turn it around,” Golding said. “We are in the midst of working on it. It’s not an easy thing to do. Partly because it is not for profit.
“But I am confident that, over time, we will turn it around. We have a new CEO and we’ve got a very dynamic management and board.”
He said the focus of the university is to provide opportunities for students from disadvantaged areas.
“It is part of a philanthropic initiative that we have taken to try to create opportunities for people in the normal course who would not have opportunities,” Golding said.
“Let’s take the statistics, for example, from Mitchells Plain.
“There are over 200 children that have university capacity, probably have the exemption, but do not have the financial means or the confidence to want to go on to study further.
“It is funded by students to an extent, it is also supported by people who give bursaries. We give a number of bursaries a year.”
Cornerstone Institute, though, is not just for disadvantaged students, he added.
“It is also for people who may be exceptionally gifted but a big university is not appropriate for them, they need more individual attention,” Golding said.
“So because our university is small, that is increasingly a necessity; they are not just a number at this college, they actually have a personality.
“We know who they are, we know their circumstances, and the type of individual attention given to them is different to what’s given at a university where there are thousands of students studying the programme.”
When he is not focused on his various business ventures or philanthropic endeavours, Golding dotes on his sevenyear-old twins, Liam and Erin, with his partner Bronwyn Keene-Young, a former chief operating officer at e.tv.
And Golding’s recipe for success? “Hard work, honesty and perseverance are the keys to building sustainable institutions,” he said.
‘I travelled most