Terry Crawford-Browne’s got his eye on the gold

Terry and Lavinia Crawford-Browne at their home overlooking the old racecourse at Royal Ascot. Mr Crawford-Browne released his latest book Eye on the Gold in April.

With a tenacious spirit and a lifelong
record of fighting the good fight, Terry
Crawford-Browne has earned himself a
reputation as one of the country’s top corruption
busters. 

From fighting apartheid’s conscription to
his decades-long campaign exposing corruption
in the country’s arms deal, the Ireland-born Mr
Crawford-Browne is not one to back away from
a fight. 
At 77 he shows little sign of slowing down. He
heads up the South African chapter of World
Beyond War – a global non-violent movement
that wants to abolish war. 
“Both the world and South Africa is a mess. But
it’s the dark before the dawn,” he says. 
In his latest book, Eye on the Gold, Mr Crawford-Browne touches on the land issues in South
Africa and the redundant apartheid-era military
bases scattered across the country. 

Eye on the Gold is Mr Crawford-Browne’s third
instalment in a series of must-reads for activists
and scholars.  
He was forced to cancel the book launch in
April after lockdown was announced a few days
earlier. 
“Land is understandably a highly contentious
and emotive issue given the dispossessions and
evictions of the colonial and apartheid eras. The
intention during the Defence Review was that
local communities rather than property developers should be the beneficiaries of redevelopment
of those now redundant military bases,” he writes
in Eye on the Gold

In 2013, he was part of a group that met with
then Premier Helen Zille and then Cape Town
mayor Patricia de Lille to discuss why Youngsfield
and Wingfield military bases are not redeveloped
for housing to replace the shacks in Khayelitsha
and Dunoon. 

“Zille and De Lille shut us down, conveniently blaming the ANC and claiming that they
have written to the Department of Public Works
(DPW) making such requests, but DPW ignores
them. 
There is still no progress even now that
De Lille is the Minister of Public Works,” he says. 

Land shortage for social housing is acute especially in the Western Cape, he says.
“It manifests itself in social unrest and frustration in Dunoon and Joe Slovo, including
the tragic burning of buses and schools. 

The
ANC central government simply does not want
to give the DA credit for anything and, in turn
and equally disgracefully, the DA doesn’t want
‘more refugees’ from the Eastern Cape. 

And the
poor suffer the consequences of this bickering.” 

With an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of
greed and corruption unfolding behind the
scenes, Mr Crawford-Browne has not allowed it to
weigh him down. He discusses these grim topics
with ease on his sun-soaked balcony in Royal
Ascot, letting out a hearty laugh every once in a
while. 

But he admits “the 80s were tough”.
Playing a key role alongside Archbishop Des
mond Tutu to impose financial
sanctions against South Africa in
the 1980s may have had something to do with that. 
In Eye on the Gold, Mr Crawford-Browne recalls his time lobbying bankers, politicians and
church networks “to tighten sanctions as a last non-violent strategy to avert a civil war in South
Africa.” 
While his efforts gained international momentum, at home
death threats and phone tapping
became part of everyday life.
Like Archbishop Tutu, Mr Crawford-Browne decided he would
leave it up to God to protect
him. 
In addition to God’s protection, he also found a strong
anchor in his wife, Lavinia.
Her career has included serving as Archbishop Tutu’s personal
assistant for 22 years and heading
the marketing department at the
Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. 
The two were engaged six weeks
after meeting and married two
months later. 
“I’ve just been very fortunate,”
says Mr Crawford-Browne of his
52-year marriage.
Asked how he felt about being
part of shaping history, he says:
“It’s been an amazing privilege to
be a part of it all. But then again,
it’s an amazing country.”