By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Politicians from different political organisations yesterday strongly urged Namibian youths to constructively engage in development activities to ensure economic growth. Not so different from most parts of the world, the local youth are affected by unemployment and illiteracy among other social ills. These problems prevent them performing to their optimum and to contribute fully to the development of the country. Speaking during an induction course for newly-appointed National Executive Committee (NEC) members of the National Youth Council (NYC), the Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta, Congress of Democrats (CoD) parliamentarian Elma Dienda, and Democrat Turnhulle Alliance (DTA) member of parliament McHenry Venaani, said the youth faced a number of challenges that could only be resolved if the youth became actively involved in activities that would ensure a bright future for them. According to Dienda, young women in the country have long complained about being excluded from mainstream development. Based on that, she called on young people to stop undermining their abilities and make their presence felt in society. “Now is the time for us to recognise that opportunities never return, and take up all challenges that come our way. Gone are the days when we allowed men to dominate and set the tone for development,” she stated. Dienda recommended NYC programmes include women particularly in decision-making, planning, implementation and monitoring. Venaani stressed the need for youth to develop a sense of responsibility, adding that being a leader requires one to have a vision. However, he urged young parliamentarians and those in influential positions to “open doors” for aspiring leaders in the country. “I dispute the saying that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow. The youths are the leaders of today and tomorrow. Evidence is the young people in high positions driving the economy of the country.” Venaani reminded young people to develop a culture of financial prudence should they find themselves in leadership positions. “To the new members of the NYC, see a culture of reviewing quarterly reports. In this country, we have seen a culture of spending and later seeking approval from the board, yet the situation should be the other way round,” he said. Shifeta commended the NYC for the role it plays in empowering the youth, adding that his office has drawn up a programme that ascertains a brighter future for all Namibian youth.