Comrade Moore, the die-hard Marxist is no more

SHARE   |   Wednesday, 05 July 2017   |   By Justin Hunyepa

Popularly known as Cde Moore, Dr Elmon Tafa 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) and apartheid South Africa, and some attended school with him. He also read a lot of liberation literature from different writers in the region and the communist world. He used to rhetorically state that his blood veins had Botswana National Front (BNF) flowing in him even before he joined the party. He officially joined the BNF around 1978 while studying at the University of Botswana (UBLS). It was here that he joined the prestigious Kenneth Koma’s study groups with the likes of veteran politician Cde Akanyang Magama. The advanced Political Study group was Co-ordinated by Otsweletse Moupo. The group published a magazine called the ‘’Clarion Call’’ up to 1989. While at UB, he was also a member of the Botswana Students Council (BSC), a BNF student wing which was affiliated to the Botswana Youth Federation, the Youth League of the Botswana National Front. His Marxist 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 exponentially during his UB student days in the early 1980s. He read extensively on Marx, Engels and Lenin and other related literature and shunned any other work that was not in line with his doctrine. He was a friend of trade unions and has been invited many times at their activities.  Different educational institutions in the country and abroad also invited him for 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 also 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 to share his Marxist ideological orientation which was critical for the young trade unionists. In early 2004, Cde Moore presented what was seen as a controversial paper at BOFESETE conference in Palapye where he critically condemned 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. Cde Moore recent participation at a BOSETU event was in Masunga in 2016 at the organisation’s Open Day discussion which was aired by Duma fm. With short notice, he took up the challenge immediately. He appeared several times at other local trade union activities, invited or uninvited, and always gave them solidarity statements. 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 did not only organise and teach in BNF study groups, but continued with his writings to newspapers using the pseudonym Cde Money, then Elijah Taufila, before he adopted Cde Moore. He was a friend to local papers where he had contributed countless articles. He also represented the party several times at different media houses. At Molepolole and Tonota Colleges of Education, student-teachers fought to be in his class to enjoy his teachings which went beyond the college curricula. As a Social Studies lecturer, the curricula offered a rich ground for his ideological inclinations, where Marxism was also a subject.  This also partly explains why the BNF survived for more than 50 years while other opposition parties collapsed, as legions of his products were converted to his ideology and joined his party. These colleges of education graduates, joined other BNF UB graduates, and together have been running the public service and private sector. Cde Koma and other party leaders continued with the study groups throughout the country, and these have now come of age, hence the imminent change of government.

It was at the University of Botswana, now as a lecturer, where he enjoyed his full political freedom more, teaching study groups and writing countless articles and papers for the public, academia and the BNF policies. To prepare for this open political warfare against the ruling BDP, 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. The trunk was permanently kept in his van and was ready for any rally, planned or spontaneous. At any platform, Cde Moore has been consistent with his presentations where he always shared BNF policies and why they were important to change the lives of Batswana. He was first elected into the BNF Central Committee in 2005 at Ledumang Senior School as Secretary for Political Education. He later stood for national general elections only once in 2009 in Francistown South as an independent candidate. His independent candidacy was due to the contradictions that were prevalent then within the BNF leadership, after he was suspended together with Cdes Legogang Letsie, Nehemiah Modubule and Akanyang Magama. He however did not recognise the suspension and insisted that he was a BNF member. In 2016, Cde Moore bounced back again in the BNF 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 Princess Marina Hospital in May recently, Cde Moore sent me to his church in Tlokweng, the international WCCC to inform his 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 since it was late. 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 during the day. 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 Justin’s deportation and lobbied for his comeback. A sworn Marxist, Tafa had paradoxically become a fervent church goer, to the surprise of many who knew his hard position on religion. On several occasions, he drove to South Africa to attend Pastor Justin’s church services.

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

Justin Hunyepa

BNF Secretary for Information and Publicity