19 March 2021
President H.E. Mr Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan, delivering on 16 March 2022 his truly historic State of the Nation Address under the
theme: ” NEW PATH OF RENOVATION AND MODERNIZATION”,
managed to show outstanding qualities of a wise leader.
This year’s SONA by Kazakh President was made against a backdrop of the unprecedented after the Cold War world turbulence. Our first observation is that this evolving fact did not distract the Head of State much to concentrate strictly on the external matters, inter alia, regional geopolitical agenda. This SONA was heavily focused on aspirations of the People of Kazakhstan, as it should be, according to our reckoning.
The President prioritized, above all, the importance of solidifying the
cherished Independence of Kazakhstan as its citizens’ main and sacred
asset. This cannot be overemphasized in light of what is happening in
that part of the world now. Freedom and Independence cannot be taken as granted things, and any modern wise leader should be emphasizing the
criticality of such matters, like Liberty and Sovereignty, as today’s
people must handover them for the succeeding generations. The history of post-Apartheid in south Africa is equally instructive in this regard.
That is why Madiba Nelson Mandela, recognized as iconic leader all over the globe, urged civilization to continue long walk to freedom.
Secondly and wisely so, President Tokayev reaffirmed the strategic
intent to building a stronger New Kazakhstan based on economics and political reforms that are in step with a modern world, as well as recent aspirations of all the people on the planet.
A constantly reforming and evolving state keeps its relevance both today and in the future for all its nationals. The combination of
economic and political reforms is what underpinning the adequate standard of living. This is also an important foundation for prosperity and sustained human rights.
Elaborating further on political reforms, Kazakh leader highlighted the
importance of rejecting super-presidential system of governance, with transfer to a model with a strong presidency without excessive powers, backed by influential democratic parliament with greater participation by the citizenry that creates an accountable government. It is good to hear about such novelties, as they will provide a barrier to corruption and abuse of power at all levels.
Today in every part of the world, national constitutions are gradually but increasingly meeting the global benchmark of high level of freedoms by ensuring the representation of people in power, as well as accountability of governments to its nationals, much like South Africa’s constitution is held in high regard the world over. To this end, various
clarifications on constitutionality matters for ordinary people, as well as both prosecutors and ombudspersons are of utmost significance
everywhere. It this vein, the transformation of the Constitutional Council into the Constitutional Court is also deserving every commendation. Yet, in accordance with the international practice, such innovation will more effectively enforce the provisions of the Basic
Law. For us, as human rights activists, this initiative is also an
important step, as its builds more just and balanced legal state, which protects the constitutional rights of its citizens.
Reforms to the electoral and representative systems, as well as the
administrative-territorial structure are equally sweeping and detailed.
In particular, the creation of three new provinces (Abai, Jetisu and
Ulytau) will give additional dynamism, ensuring regional fairness and
economic effect. And switching to a mixed proportional-majoritarian
model, when Mäjilis (lower house of Parliament) as well as provincial and metropolitan Maslikhats (local representative bodies) will be formed
70% proportionally and 30% majoritarily will ensure harmony, as it will
fully reflect the rights of all citizens. The functionality of the
Mäjilis will be expanded. It will be vested with the exclusive right to
pass laws, with the possibility to overcome the objections of the
Senate. In turn, the powers of the Senate will be supplemented with the right to approve candidates for the positions of chairmen of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Judicial Council. Mäjilis
henceforth will control the quality of execution of the state budget.
The Chairman of the Supreme Audit Chamber (new body to be established instead of Accounts Committee, non-accountable to Parliament) will report twice a year to the lower chamber. These three reforms seem to us
to be a most fully reflecting the interests of the Kazakhstani nationals both on national and regional levels. Moreover, they will enhance inclusivity and accountability. On the other hand, no tier of government from the Executive and Legislative Authorities, as well as the
Judiciary, have been held as ‘holy cows’ or ‘untouchables’. It is this
principle that will ensure comprehensive reforms at all levels. And then
the Kazakh authorities will increasingly ensure the participation of its
citizens in public administration – from the lowest to the highest
On socio-economic matters, what is most stark, and pleasing – is the consistency of the economic policy path that has been crafted in recent years, but steeped in the wise decisions of past. In consistency lies
sustainability, and in this regard various economic measures of the Land
of the Great Steppe stand out. Of particular note are the focus on stability of the national currency – Kazakhstani Tenge and ensuring the
food security. In Kazakhstan the key macroeconomic variables of inflation, economic growth, employment, as well as financial stability are being managed holistically, and with a developmental slant to ensure a sustainable economic future.
On humanitarian matters, the following are particularly instructive:
• strengthening human right institutions
• citizen’s right to approach constitutional judiciary directly for
redress, to be realized with the establishment of the Constitutional
• constitutional abolition of the death penalty is another firm step of
Kazakh leadership after the country’s accession to the Second Optional
Protocol on Civil and Political Rights,
• expanding participation of Kazakhs in the administration of justice
through jury trials.
• increasing the freedom and competitiveness of the Kazakh media.
• strengthening the role of civil society and many other changes.
Finally, what is very striking about the Kazakh President’s State of the
Nation Address is that:
• it is comprehensive and covers all the key aspects of the politics,
economy, as well as civil liberties.
• it steeped in a Kazakh tradition of wise leadership that presence
continuity, consistency and sustainability.
• it is very much oriented on actions that are driven by cogent policies
of President Tokayev and focus across all aspects of human existence.
If Kazakhstan continues on this path, this leading country of the
Central Asia can only grow from strength to strength as a modern nation
and economy. It all starts with resolute and far-sighted leadership, as
currently exemplified in this SONA!
With our sincerest wishes for building New Kazakhstan,
Ndileka Mandela, eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela, Founder/CEO
of the T.Mandela Foundation,
Chair of G-Global Africa
Susan Novela, Member of Board of the T.Mandela Foundation and G-Global Africa, Editor-in-Chief of the Diplomatic Informer SA Magazine