Comrade Moore: The Die Hard Marxist

Justin Hunyepa
Wednesday, 05 July 2017
Elmon Tafa Elmon Tafa BOTSWANA GUARDIAN

Popularly known as Cde Moore, Dr Elmon Tafa has cut a clear and distinguished figure as an accomplished Political guru, Marxist, Educationist, Trade Unionist, Mentor, passionate Writer and Analyst, Reader – all rolled up in one.

His first cut in politics was when he was at Mater Spei College as a secondary school student. He was inspired into politics by refugees running from the brutality of the Rhodesian regime (Zimbabwe) some of whom were students at the school. He also read a lot of liberation literature from different writers in the region and beyond. He used to rhetorically state that his blood veins had Botswana National Front (BNF) flowing in him even before he got the membership card. He officially joined the BNF around 1970s while studying at the University of Botswana (UB). It was here that he joined the prestigious Kenneth Koma’s study groups with the likes of veteran politician Cde Akanyang Magama. His Marxism ideology sharpened up during this time where he also mingled with ANC liberation activists and other socialists from the region. Politically, Cde Moore has one of the longest history as a loyal member of the Botswana National Front (BNF). His BNF activism grew from leaps to bounds during his University of Botswana school days in the early 1980s. 

It was at the University of Botswana, now as a lecturer, where he enjoyed his full political freedom more and wrote countless articles and papers for the public, academia and the BNF. To prepare for this open political launch, Cde Moore bought a full set public address system, together with a folding podium. He then bought a black trunk where he kept this political paraphernalia and started touring the country. He has also written several BNF and UDC policies.

He read extensively on Marxism - Leninism and other related front.

He was first elected into the BNF Central Committee in 2005 in Ledumang as Secretary for Political Education.

He stood for national general election only once in 2009 in Francistown South as an independent candidate. He stood as independent candidate due to the contradictions that were prevalent then within the BNF leadership, after he was suspended together with Lebogang Letsie, Nehemiah Modubule and Akanyang Magama. He however did not recognise the suspension and insisted that he was a BNF member.

He was a friend of trade unions and has been invited many times.  Different educational institutions in the country and abroad invited him to make professional educational presentations. 

Dr Tafa is a founding member of Association of Botswana Tertiary Lecturers (ABOTEL), now known as Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU).

Comrade Moore participated several times at Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) activities, even in its infancy stages as BOFESETE. Tafa had a special place within the trade union movement and was invited many times to share his Marxist ideological orientation which was critical for the young upcoming trade unionists. 

In early 2004, Cde Moore presented a controversial paper at BOFESETE conference in Palapye where he critically condemned the teachers for using corporal punishment in schools and called for the total abolishment of the practice. He later published the paper on line on 01 July 2010 titled: Corporal Punishment: The brutal face of Botswana's authoritarian schools. While some teachers resisted, some were immediately converted.

Cde Moore's recent participation at a BOSETU event was in Masunga in 2016 at the organisation’s Open Day. With little notice, he was roped in and he jumped to the idea immediately.

He appeared several times at other local trade union activities, invited or uninvited, and always gave them solidarity statements, an engagement he loved since it embraced Marxism. His last podium presentation was in Letlhakane where he commemorated the 2017 May Day with the Botswana Mine Workers Union.

Even as a secondary school teacher, Moore did not hide his love and membership for the BNF. He continued with his writings to newspapers using the pseudonym Cde Money, then Elijah Taufila, before he later adopted Cde Moore.

At Molepolole and Tonota Colleges of Education, student-teachers fought to be in his class to enjoy his teachings which went beyond the legal college curricula. As a Social Studies lecturer, the curricula offered a rich ground for his ideological inclinations, where Marxism was also a subject.  

In 2016, Cde Moore bounced back again in the Botswana National Front leadership as Secretary for Political Education, where he recorded the highest number of votes than any other candidate. An independent thinker, he did not mince his words if something was not done properly.

Checking him immediately after his first hospitalisation at Marina Hospital in May, Cde Moore sent me to his church in Tlokweng, the international WCCC to inform Pastor Justin. As it was late at night, I asked Cde Nelson Ramaotwana to accompany me and search for the church in Tlokweng as Moore had given the directions. We found the church but it was locked up and that night I googled the pastor till I found his contacts and sent him an email update on Tafa’s state of health. The following day Tafa was happy as he had been checked by the church leaders. I then gave the Pastor feedback who said he also tried calling him but his phone was off. Tafa had accolades about the Pastor who also had a special place for him in the church, upfront and next to him. He once wrote a scathing article attacking the government for Pastor’s deportation and lobbied for his comeback. A sworn Marxist, Tafa had become a fervent church goer, to the surprise of many who knew his hard position on religion.

Even on his deathbed, Cde Moore still clung to his ideological convictions of Marxism. Go well Cde Moore. Go well.

Justin Hunyepa 

BNF Secretary for Information and Publicit

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