Sharing water resources among basin countries is a major topic of discussion for those responsible for managing international water systems. Planned water transfer schemes can result in environmental and security disputes. Southern Africa is one of the world's most critical regions in terms of water management, with a large disparity in availability of water between the relatively wet northern part of the region and the drier south. The first transboundary transfer of water occurred in the Southern African region in January 1998, between Lesotho and South Africa. Mikiyasu Nakayama was involved in the establishment of a basinwide management scheme for the Zambezi river system. Political complexities led to many difficulties in the development of the action plan. In the region's new political setting, all countries can now participate in discussions on an equal footing. This change may be interpreted as an opportunity for greater participation or as the dangerous empowerment of self-interest. This work examines both the risks and opportunities for water management in this new political environment.