The ANC’s executive committee decided to recall Zuma after more than eight years in power at a marathon meeting that stretched into the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Zuma had agreed to step down if he were granted a transition period of three to six months, ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule said at a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
But the ANC rejected Zuma’s transition proposal and the President’s current stance is unclear.
“South Africa’s going through a period of uncertainty and anxiety as a result of the unresolved matter of transition,” Magashule said, adding that the decision was a difficult one “taken after exhaustive discussions.”
Magashule did not give a deadline or transition period for Zuma to resign. The President’s term had been due to end next year.
The recall forces Zuma into a corner, as the ANC holds power in Parliament and without overwhelming party support, Zuma will lose a subsequent confidence vote.
A no-confidence vote is scheduled for February 22 but opposition politicians were also pushing for the vote to happen this week.
The ANC’s announcement follows weekend meetings between Zuma and his Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who took the reins as ANC leader in December.
Ramaphosa said on Sunday that the uncertainty over Zuma’s future had damaged the the ANC, which led South Africa out of apartheid and into a new era.
Zuma, 75, had clung to power despite being mired in a slew of corruption scandals and survived opposition parties’ attempts to oust him. His ability to survive them earned him the nickname “Teflon President.”
Zuma faces more than 780 allegations of corruption relating to a 1990s arms deal. Zuma denies all the corruption allegations against him.