There is a well-known experiment where small children are left alone in a room with sweets and told not to eat them. Their self-restraint is measured by how long they hold out. Any parent would tell you this is bonkers. If you don’t want children to eat sweets, don’t leave sweets in reach of them. The same applies to corruption. If we want to ensure decision-makers don’t give in to temptation it’s not enough to call for more discipline. Rather, we need to restructure decision-making systems to make it harder to indulge. The past few years have offered a master class on how large-scale corruption functions. It centres, unsurprisingly, on well-resourced programmes: departments with major procurement budgets; the state-owned companies’ huge build programmes; the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC’s) black economic empowerment deals. It is protected by a culture of secrecy across government. Democracy sought to bring in more sunlight through laws on information and administrative just...

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