Open Side: David Pocock returns to Africa

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies flanker David Pocock is back in Australia, but he and partner Emma still have an unfinished mission back in Zimbabwe.

The Pococks spent close to half of David's sabbatical year at his grandfather's farm, attempting to create a sustainable future.

That project, which is far from over, was complicated by the Zimbabwe Lands Committee, which can come to properties unannounced and claim back portions of land.

Pocock's family's farm has had to cut almost half of its staff due to land cuts in the past, making it harder to keep things running.

"We let go 20 workers, which was pretty tough," Pocock said on the final episode of 'Open Side'.

"That's people's livelihoods."

"Our capacity is pretty limited by the political and economic circumstances here and also by our finances," Emma says.

"It's just endless. There's always something that's broken, always someone who comes wanting a job.

"You take for granted living in Australia that things will follow a certain process but that's not guaranteed here.

"I think that's the thing that makes it difficult is that you have an interaction like that and you just don't know what the outcome's going to be, that's what makes it anxiety-inducing."

By the time they returned to Australia in January, after a stint in Japan, things were still up in the air, though David and Emma are far from done with their commitment to the property.

The aim for the pair is to find a new economic model for the farm and help create greater wealth equity in Zimbabwe.

"I just feel like it's something that makes me feel hopeful about the future and something I want to be part of, trying to build new models that work and that benefit people and meet their needs and don't just build up wealth for one set of people at the expense of others," he said.

Pocock also went to local schools to try and help expand the education capacity to year seven, with children currently having to walk up to 12 kilometres in year 4 and above.

David admits he may be naively optimistic in his work, but is holding onto hope he and Emma can help make an impact in his homeland.

"At the end of the day, none of us can control it. We're trying to control what we can and see what happens.

"Sometimes I'm too optimistic maybe a bit naive, but that's just how I am."