Erkki Nghimtina (born 16 September 1948) is a Namibian politician. A member of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), Nghimtina has been a member of the National Assembly of Namibia since 1995 and the Minister of Mines and Energy since 20 March 2005.
Erkki Nghimtina was born in Eembidi in Ovamboland (now Ohangwena Region) in September 1948 to Meriam Shopati and Johannes Nghimtina. He began working in 1970 as a clerk in Oshakati and from 1972-73 in the postal services of South West Africa. He has 13 children; 8 daughters and 5 sons.
Politics and exile
Nghimtina fled into exile with SWAPO in 1974 to Oshatotwa, Zambia. From Zambia, he left to the Soviet Union, where he trained as a military radio specialist until 1976. Returning to Zambia, Nghimtina became instructor and later supervisor for the eastern front of the Namibian War of Independence until 1979. From 1979-1982, the Eembidi native was the Director of Communications at Shilumbaba in Zambia while earning a diploma from the University of Rostock in the German Democratic Republic. From 1983-1989, he was the director of communications for the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) wing of SWAPO.
Return to Namibia
Nghimtina returned to Namibia for the first time in 15 years in 1989. He entered the Namibia Defence Force in the rank of Colonel and lasted in that post until retirement from active duty in 1995. While in the Namibian military, Nghimtina worked extensively with Southern African Development Community and African Union on regional and continental security measures.
Upon retirement from the military in 1995, Nghimtina was selected to the position of deputy Minister of Defence which lasted until his promotion to Defence Minister in 1997. In 1997, he was also selected to the SWAPO Central Committee.
In 2001, while speaking in the Kavango Region as Minister of Defence, Nghimtina denounced and threatened Namibian collaborators with the Angolan rebel group UNITA while the Angolan Civil War was coming to a close. He said that the Military of Namibia would not allow people to die because collaborators were Namibians.
Nghimtina consistently opposed the Iraq War, slamming it both immediately prior to and a year into it as a move by powerful nations to impose their will on weaker ones.
In September 2008, Nghimtina was accused of aiming a firearm at a young relative and firing a shot in his direction. He allegedly did this because the teenager had joined the opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP). At a press conference held by RDP following the events, Jesaya Nyamu, acting secretary of the party, called it an attempted murder. Following the press conference, President Hifikepunye Pohamba called Nghimtina into the State Houseto discuss the matter, which led to Nghimtina's forced resignation from both the National Assembly of Namibia and his Ministerial position. However, following a meeting of high-level government and party officials including SWAPO secretary Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, the Minister was recalled to the State House and simply reprimanded, allowing him to retain his office. However, shortly thereafter, Nghimtina was heavily interrogated by Namibian police concerning the shooting. Infuriated by the interrogation, he resigned again. On 2 September, Nghimtina told the Namibian newspaper that he had not resigned and other party officials called his resignation just speculation. President Pohamba left for Zambia for the state funeral of former President Levy Mwanawasa and was unable to immediately clear up the confusion. The next day, it was reported the Nghimtina had withdrawn his letter of resignation and return to his post after prominent SWAPO leadership other than President Pohamba overruled Pohamba's dismissal.