FACTIONAL behaviour in the African National Congress (ANC) and a lack of co-operation between the party and the government played a role in the recent surge of service delivery protests in the provincial capital of Mafikeng, says North West Premier Thandi Modise.

Ms Modise was under pressure to find solutions for the rising civil unrest, amid threats that her opponents in the ANC were bent on proving that her government was failing to deliver basic services.

"The clash of wills and factional behaviours are attempts to frustrate government efforts to render quality service to ordinary citizens," said Ms Modise on Friday.

This comes as service protests throughout the country had often been linked to power struggles in the ANC, which is due to hold an electoral conference in December.

As the national deputy secretary-general, Ms Modise was the most senior ANC member in North West. However, her administration received its mandate from the party's provincial executive committee, torn apart by the rivalry between chairman Supra Mahumapelo and secretary Kabelo Mataboge.

Mr Mahumapelo is seen as supporting President Jacob Zuma's second term bid in Mangaung, while Mr Mataboge is linked to those calling for Mr Zuma to be replaced.

It emerged last week that government resources were being allocated to separate processes to investigate the cause of protests feeding into the factional battles.

The legislature's portfolio committee on provincial affairs and finance held a meeting with Mafikeng residents last Wednesday to discuss service delivery.

The move seemed unrelated to the continuing provincial government investigation by a task team appointed by Ms Modise last month. The task team - headed by MEC for local government and traditional affairs China Dodovu and MEC for human settlement, public safety and liaison Nono Maloyi - was seen as an attempt to discredit Mr Mahumapelo, who has been accused by his opponents as being the mastermind behind the violent protests.

Mr Mahumapelo's supporters have openly campaigned for him to head the provincial government and replace Ms Modise. He was appointed speaker of the legislature early this year - replacing Mr Maloyi - in what was seen as a compromise between the ANC leadership and the provincial government.

Mr Mataboge issued a scathing statement following the meeting on Wednesday, saying protests were "politically motivated to destabilise Ms Modise's government".

"This manifests itself in criminal acts, civil disobedience and mobilisation of citizens to sign petitions for the recall of Ms Modise and various mayors," said Mr Mataboge.

A government source said there had been "strong feelings" that the meeting could be used for political gain in the power struggle between factions in the ANC.

However, the acting chairman of the portfolio committee of provincial affairs and finance, Hoffman Galeng, said on Thursday the meeting was part of the legislature's overseeing of the executive.

But a source close to Mr Mata-boge said Mr Galeng had "undying support" for Mr Mahumapelo and used his position in the legislature "to mislead the community". The source said these "factional" activities were authorised by Mr Mahumapelo.

Ms Modise said the task team was expected to conclude its probe and report on its findings. Sources in the ANC said there will be a government imbizo with Mafikeng residents on Saturday, where the findings of the task team will be made public.

stones@bdfm.co.za