One basin, one governance ?

“Grey governance”, structuring inequalities and institutionalisation of cooperation on transboundary rivers in Southern Africa
A seminar by Paul-Malo Winsback


Chair: Magalie Bourblanc (GovInn / Ceepa / University of Pretoria/ CIRAD UMR G-EAU / Université de Montpellier)

Discussant: Michela Marcatelli (Department of Geography, Environmental Management and Energy Studies / University of Johannesburg)

Tuesday 6 November 2018
15:00 | Centre for the study of governance innovation (GovInn) – University of Pretoria

Old College House, Seminar Room 1-09, University of Pretoria Main Campus (Hatfield), Lynwood Rd, Pretoria



The institutional governance and sharing of rivers resources is often structured around the apparent naturality of the scales of a basin or a river, which is considered as optimal by many. A speech of naturalness serves then as a justification to many policies: if these territories are the most relevant by nature, institutions have to adapt to them or at least take them into account. This is especially observed on transboundary waters where institutions are often perceived as a warrant of stability (Keohane 1988; Schmeier, Gerlak, and Blumstein 2016). It is however commonly accepted that natural frontiers justified by sciences are also social constructs (Bourdieu 1976, 2001; Latour 2000; Bigo and Walker 2007). Because these scales gather multiple individuals and institutions, often overlapping or embedded in other regions and allegiances, the way these areas are conceived and lived as one entity is worth analysing.

This seminar offers to analyse the sharing of freshwater resources in the whole Limpopo river basin (shared amongst South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Bostwana), based on the research of a PhD candidate. The questions raised and observations made show “grey areas” of governance, where stakeholders are appropriating the rivers in various ways and at different scales and levels. With the insight of geography and political sociology, we will address fundamental questions on how riparian communities are structured and interact on transboundary waters in the region, from a bottom-up perspective.


The fieldwork of Paul-Malo Winsback is supported by IFAS-Recherche.

Unfortunately, Nicolas Verhaeghe’s talk is postponed to a future date.


Paul-Malo Winsback (Sciences Po Toulouse / LaSSP)

“This is not just about water…” – The structuration processes of cooperation over freshwater on the Limpopo river basin

A PhD candidate in political science at Sciences Po Toulouse, Paul-Malo Winsback’s work focuses on the social dynamics structuring the multiple “cooperation” processes over the governance of freshwater on the Limpopo river basin. Beneficiary of a public doctoral research-and-teaching contract, he is a member of the Laboratoire des Sciences Sociales du Politique (LaSSP) in Toulouse, and is a recipient of field work stipends from IFAS-Recherche and the Federal University of Toulouse. He is also an affiliate researcher at the Centro de Estudos Africanos (CEA) at the University Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique, as well as at the Department of Political and Administrative Studies (faculty of social sciences) at the University of Botswana. His field work undertaken in South Africa benefitted from the support of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).