Mmegi Online :: Car of the Year: MaoFit, Fifizola!
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Last Updated
Tuesday 25 June 2019, 15:36 pm.
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Car of the Year: MaoFit, Fifizola!

Love it or hate it, you cannot ignore it. Literally. Because they are everywhere you look. The Honda Fit, an unassuming hatchback aridiculous and abnormal loads and also being the getaway a of choice for criminals. Mmegi Staff Writers, MOMPOLOKI RANKGATE, PINI BOTHOKO & OOKEDITSE MALESELA write
By Mompoloki Rankgate Pini Bothoko Ookeditse Malesela Fri 21 Dec 2018, 14:18 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Car of the Year: MaoFit, Fifizola!








Stop what you’re doing. Now log onto your Facebook. Search for “Honda Fit,” or MaoFit, or Fifi, Fifizola or even Ngwanawatshwenya.

Before you are dozens of videos of a small hatchback called a Honda Fit, performing all manner of wonders. In one, the Honda Fit is evading a police car by doing circles in tight area, in another, it’s reversing in a forward lane. In some pictures, it’s loaded with construction material, including bricks and a Jojo. In another, it’s carrying anything from firewood and furniture to livestock.

Honda Fit, a budget import, has proved wildly popular in Botswana, due largely to affordable price, speed, low fuel consumption and versatility.

Between January and June this year, according to Statistics Botswana numbers, Batswana bought 3, 835 Honda Fits out of the 26, 053 cars purchased during that period. The data suggests that one out of every 10 cars bought in the first six months of the year was a Honda Fit, a statistic that is easy to confirm just by standing on any road in any part of the country.

While the vehicle is only now making waves in the country, the Honda Fit, also marketed as a Honda Jazz, was first produced 17 years ago. The five-door hatchback can be four-wheel or front wheel drive and are available in either six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Fit series are made to be quicker, safer and more fuel efficient. While Honda Fit motors are not that powerful, they are responsive and willing engine makes handling fun and quick.

It’s easy to see why the Fit is so popular in Botswana, especially amongst the youth. It can swing through traffic, can take you from Ramatlabama to Ramokgwebana on little fuel and can face off against the speedier vehicles in the same hatchback category.

“I put a full tank and drive to Serowe and back. Which car at the same level can do that, with the same comfort,” says Lesang Enyatseng, a 24-year-old sales rep with a local microlender.

“It’s quick when you need it to be quick and it rarely has mechanical issues.”

The car is so beloved, but some of its key qualities, such as speed, affordability and versatility, have meant as its numbers have risen on the streets, so has its bad reputation as the vehicle of choice for criminals and other lawbreakers.

Go back to Facebook. Try and search for a video of a Honda Fit doing something good. Perhaps transporting children or rescuing another small car.

On the streets, the Honda Fit is well known for daredevil stunts and bad driving. Non-Honda Fit drivers now know to exercise high caution when they see the Fifizola. Anytime, as the social media videos prove, the Honda Fit can swerve into your lane, run on the hard shoulder, whiz through the tightest of spaces between two vehicles or run you off the road.

Now go to the internet and search “Honda Fit” “Mmegi” and see the numerous articles on how the versatile MaoFit has been involved in everything from rapes, to armed robberies even to murders.

Senior police officers recently revealed on Btv that they paid more attention to Honda Fits than any other vehicle during their crime prevention efforts.

Otsile

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Khohliwe knows all about the bad reputation her vehicle now has.

“I now find it uncomfortable to use the car because of what it has been associated with, even though I like its low consumption and ease of moving around,” she says.

“I’m aware of the issues around the car. As long as I’m not the one being reckless, I’ll keep it.”

Recently, a Mmegi newscrew borrowed a Honda Fit to test perceptions about the vehicle. A trip to Mahalapye was arranged and we took off.

The journey went well with no hiccups but along the drive, the looks from other motorists were evident whenever we approached them. We rolled smoothly until we reached Dibete. As we approached the fixed police roadblock, the officers on duty were sitting in their tent, apparently resting from the hot day.

Ahead of us in the queue for the roadblock was a Corolla and Altezza. The policeman manning the roadblock allowed these two to pass, then immediately rushed back to signal us to pull over.

We joked that we knew we would be pulled over because we were in a Fit, but the officer insisted that he had not even noticed the make of our vehicle. From nowhere, he made a surprise admission under his breath.

“Dikoloi tse di re tsentse dingalo. Ditiro tsa tsone di a makatsa,” he said.

But the thing is that it’s not the poor Honda Fit that does these things. It’s the drivers and their attitudes, many of them emboldened by the idea that everyone knows this is what Honda Fits do.

It is the drivers who blast through red traffic lights, who get involved in crime and who perform death-defying stunts, sometimes involving unwitting participants. In addition, the fact that Honda Fits are the vehicle of choice for taxi drivers, whose road recklessness is legendary, does not help the poor car’s reputation.

The police’s official line is that they do not discriminate against any particular vehicle.

Botswana Police Service deputy public relations officer, senior superintendent Near Bagali says for the police, the Honda Fit is just a vehicle brand. He says they are however aware of the stereotypes around the vehicle.

“As the police we do not have any problem with the Honda Fit car.

“It’s a brand like any other car brand and we do not discriminate it.

“We do not view it differently from other car brands, but we have observed that majority of people have in a way stereotyped it.”

Bagali believes the Honda Fit’s image has been tarnished by its local drivers.

“It’s unfortunate because that will be their behaviour but as the police we cannot be influenced by the car they drive. People who drive Honda Fit should refrain from such behaviour and stereotypes because these can affect the Honda Fit brand negatively and possibly affect their sales.”

On social media, an effort is underway to turn the tide against the Honda Fit’s bad image. Some Honda Fit drivers have formed groups, published through social media, to give back to the community as a way of cleaning up the damage and restoring lustre to the brand.

It’s still early days yet and for many, Honda Fit is still Ngwanawatshwenya.

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