Congratulations to the people of Kazakhstan. At the recent referendum, the proposed changes to the Constitution were passed with an impressive majority. Hardly surprising given that, whilst most countries try to centralise power and maximise Presidential control, the President and Parliament of Kazakhstan have offered a more enlightened, even libertarian approach. Gone is the death penalty, nepotism and resource exploitation. And welcome to an empowered citizenry, enhanced accountability and a decentralised government. The mineral wealth of Kazakhstan no longer belongs to faceless government funds who do with it what they please. Instead, it belongs to the people of Kazakhstan, held in trust by the Government for future generations.
However, the success of these changes will not be in the black and white text of the Constitution, but in the way these rights and powers translate into a happier, more empowered and wealthier citizenry. A citizenry that does not fear government. Rather a citizenry proud of its Government for the wise choices it makes for the country, the community and the future. A government forward looking, innovative and comprising the best and the brightest Kazakhs, not because of who their father is, but because they have a track record for success, and delivering citizen-centric solutions.
“The mineral wealth of Kazakhstan no longer belongs to faceless government funds who do with it what they please. Instead, it belongs to the people of Kazakhstan, held in trust by the Government for future generations.”
And to ensure that government officials do uphold the highest standards, the people need to be able to call out injustice, incompetence or worse. Not, like the past, to the government, but to an independent body. One established to allow people to be free in their criticism of a system if it fails to care. One protected from the vagaries and machinations of politicians, their pork barrel politics and their threats.
The Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman:
Which brings me on to the Human Rights Ombudsman, the extremely impressive Elvira Azimova and her excellent team, who not only has been given enhanced powers by the proposed Constitutional reforms, but who also no longer reports to the government. Instead, she reports to the newly established Constitutional Court: an independent Court, with independent judges, who have the immunity necessary to allow them to make decisions without fear or favour.