As evidence mounts of industrial-scale corruption in South Africa's public sector, aided and abetted, it would seem, by elements within private enterprise, it's good to know it cannot go on forever. Corruption on this scale has all the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme, named after a 20th-century con man in the US. They require steadily growing income to fund their mounting outgoings to survive. Choke the income and the cash flow stops. And that's when things quickly fall apart, as scores of investors have learnt. The same holds true for South Africa's corruption networks. It helps explain why the scale of the corruption is so vast and why there is a growing sense of a feeding frenzy happening as crooked officials seek to capitalise while they still can. Gone are the days when a couple of hundred thousand might have netted you a juicy contract. Nowadays there are too many checks and balances implemented by meddlesome Treasury officials and a series of difficult finance ministers to ...

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