HARARE Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni strongly condemned Thursday's beating and arrest of scores of street vendors by municipal police in the capital.
The MDC-T official however, quickly denied his views were influenced by his party which has taken a tougher stance against the controversial government-sanctioned clean-up exercise.
Dozens of municipal police on Thursday razed down vending stalls and arrested more than 25 vendors who were resisting their eviction from their vending sites to so-called designated areas.
But Manyenyeni who, as city mayor, is the face of the operation, ironically distanced himself from the brutalities, adding that this was the work of city administrators who were not sensitive to the vendors' plight.
"I am disturbed when I hear of people being beaten up because to me that is forcible eviction," said the MDC-T official in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
"I am saying when you engage in something that causes someone to be injured, what would have happened? Have you tried to engage him amicably, have you discussed with this person and found common ground?
"If you go there with a baton stick and say 'get out of here', that is a military approach."
He conceded he had limited influence on the process, saying he was only a ceremonial mayor who could only go as far as condemning the brutalities.
Manyenyeni said he well understood the dilemma being faced by city vendors who are moved to so called designated places only to find the places so poorly resourced to enable profitable trading adding, "the psychology of the vendor must be understood."
He said this as his MDC party on Friday also issued a strongly worded statement condemning the harassment of vendors by Zanu PF appointed
The MDC is adamant the invasion of city centres by vendors is a direct result of failed Zanu PF policies which have failed to deliver the promised 2, 2 million fresh jobs.
Meanwhile, Manyenyeni has denied his comments were in keeping with the party's hands off stance on vendors.
"The party knows my role at Town House as Mayor, not as a cadre," he said.
"The party deploys me here to serve the city as mayor and do what I am called upon to do.
"But if I have to go and meet with the Minister of local government that is the minister under whom I am supposed to work. It is not like I am having an anti-party stance with a Zanu PF minister."
Manyenyeni described his restaurant meeting with new local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere as a courtesy call and far from a cosy engagement signalling "common ground" on vendors.
"The only reason why we had to meet at the coffee shop is that he was rushing to Parliament and I was still at home so that was half way; it was the only place where we could meet...it was a day he was not ready.
"It was just to catch up on where we are in terms of transitional issues."
Kasukuwere had Twitted his picture with Manyenyeni sharing a coffee.