Hydro-hegemony is about power, usually expressed as a problem. In the real world we find that the concept of power is far more nuanced than this simplistic notion would allow us to understand. South Africa is clearly a regional hegemon in the context of the Orange River Basin, but it has used that power to create a stable basin-wide regime to the mutual benefit of all riparian states. This has been done over time when the regional setting was one of hostile military-styled confrontation as a local theatre of the Cold War. South Africa is an example of a plus-sum hydro-hegemon. Power is thus highly nuanced and needs to be analysed as such if that analysis is to be meaningful at a higher level of generalization. A counter theory is offered in the form of a Hydropolitical Complex in which different forms of power can be deployed to reach an outcome that is mutually beneficial to all riparian states. This paper analyses the Orange River basin as a Pivotal Basin in the Southern African Hydropolitical Complex and illustrates that power can be a solution as well.

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