What Is Behind Mamytbekov's Return?

From the standpoint of the future personnel reshuffles in the Kazakhstan Government, a sudden appointment of Asylzhan Mamytbekov as the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture is certainly noteworthy. Judging by the fact that he has come back to the state service and to the same agency at that, he is no longer in disgrace. But this is not all that matters.

On May 30, 2018, the Security Council of Kazakhstan under the leadership of Nursultan Nazarbayev examined “the progress of the implementation of the structural and institutional reforms in the country as well as the socio-economic development of the North Kazakhstan region”.

In the course of the discussion, the Leader of the Nation said, among other things, the following (quoting from Akorda’s official press release). “The Presidential Administration and the Government must work out new ways of our development. We must make predictions in order to take the necessary measures in the future. We must have a clear vision of the further steps”. And also, “All our work aims to increase the earnings of the population. If this is not achieved, it means the Government has failed”.

So, these are the two logical conclusions that can be derived from Nazarbayev’s words:

  • the Presidential Administration and the Government do not have a clear vision of what to do next to guarantee the implementation of Nazarbayev’s orders and ensure the successful social and economic development of the country;
  • the acting Cabinet under the leadership of Bakytzhan Sagintayev is unsuccessful in performing its job.

And even though this is not a blamestorming (yet), it would be careless not to pay attention to Nazarbayev’s comments to the key state agencies and their top managers. All the more so, since the talks about Adilbek Dzhaksybekov’s desire to move on to some more quiet position have been around for quite some time. Now it turns out that Bakytzhan Sagintayev, too, may leave albeit not on his own accord.

We are not to predict when the President starts the new reshuffles in his nearest circle and who will be affected by them, however, it is obvious that this will happen after the Astana Day and Nursultan Nazarbayev’s birthday that are both celebrated on July 6th. This is the Kazakhstan way – not to spoil everyone’s joy with bad news.

We will only point out that, apart from Askar Mamin, the Minister of Agriculture Umirzak Shukeyev is now on the list of the potential candidates for the Prime Minister position. The matter is that, as the head of the Government, Akorda needs a strong but flexible professional, and there are very few of those on the top of the state apparatus.

Therefore, the sudden appointment of Asylzhan Mamytbekov as the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture can certainly be considered noteworthy.

On one hand, Mamytbekov has established himself as one of the most eager managers of the sector who also knows what to do and how to do it and who has taken a number of beatings when trying to realize his ideas.

On the other hand, after his 2016 resignation and under the pressure of the public opinion, he, up until recently, had not been in demand in Akorda and tried to make it at the public office.

The very fact that Nursultan Nazarbayev has recalled Mamytbekov to the state service testifies that the latter is no longer in disgrace. And appointing him the Secretary General while Shukeyev is in power means that Akorda, for some reason, has decided not to follow its unofficial rule to turn Secretary Generals into the supervisors of the state agencies’ top officials. Thus, it is possible that all this is just a preparation for the beginning of the personnel reshuffles during which Umirzak Shukeyev will become the next Prime Minister while Asylzhan Mamytbekov replaces his as the Minister of Agriculture.

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