African National Congress (ANC) has recalled President Jacob Zuma, the party's secretary-general Ace Magashule announced on Tuesday in Johannesburg.
''The national executive committee decided to recall the president in accordance with rule 12.2 of the ANC, which allows the ANC to recall it’s deployees,” Magashule told reporters at the ruling party's headquarters, Luthuli House.
He said there was no deadline given to Zuma, who had asked the party to give him three months before he could vacate the Union Buildings.
“We will see what comrade Zuma’s response is, but it’s obvious that we want [ANC president] comrade [Cyril] Ramaphosa to take over as the president of the country.”
Pressure has mounted for the past fortnight on the beleaguered Zuma to step down. South Africans have heavily criticised protracted ''transition talks'' between Zuma and Ramaphosa that started last week, demanding an end to the impasse.
The ANC leadership has been lambasted by commentators and social media by users who say the party has been ''too soft'' on Zuma by not forcing him out of office without delay to end a political stalemate that last week saw the Parliament annual opening postponed. Opposition parties have clamoured for a debate on a motion of no confidence in the president, scheduled for February 22, to be brought forward so that Parliament could seal his fate.
However, Speaker Baleka Mbete denied the request.
The parties also demanded that Parliament be dissolved and early elections held to ''seek a new mandate'' from South Africans.
The country will hold its general elections next year, and the ANC is seen as anxious not to allow Zuma to lead it to the polls and shed further support.
On Monday night, the ANC's National Executive Committee met for 13 hours to discuss Zuma's fate and issued a demand that he resign. The president reportedly refused.
A confident Ramaphosa had told South Africans on Sunday that the Zuma matter would be finalised within a day.
''The NEC will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this very matter and because our people want this matter to be finalised, the NEC will be doing precisely that.''
This was not to be as a defiant Zuma dug deep, telling party leaders again that he was not going anywhere. The NEC in turn reportedly gave him two days to vacate the Union Buildings.
The scandal-ridden Zuma faces impeachment by his fellow comrades should he not resign himself.
Tuesday's ANC briefing had been scheduled for noon, but was postponed by two hours to give the NEC time to report back to party structures before informing the rest of South Africans.