Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma announced his resignation with immediate effect on Wednesday night.
In a 30-minute televised address from the Union Buildings in Pretoria, 75-year-old Zuma said he disagreed with the way the ANC had shoved him towards an early exit after the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as party president in December, but would accept its orders.
"I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect," Zuma said.
"Even though I disagree with the decision of the leadership of my organisation, I have always been a disciplined member of the ANC," he said.
"No life should be lost in my name. And also the ANC should not be divided in my name."
Earlier in his speech, Zuma effectively accused the ANC of violating his rights by recalling him without telling him what he had done wrong.
"I don't fear exiting political office, however I have only asked my party to articulate my transgressions and the reason for its immediate instruction that I vacate office," he said.
He said his disagreement was aimed at protecting the rule of law and his rights.
"I'm not clinging to power, I just wanted to the respect for the rule of law and my rights," he said.
Zuma's statement comes after the ANC gave him an ultimatum to resign or be recalled in a letter delivered by the party's secretary general Ace Magashule on Tuesday.
On Wednesday the ANC announced that their MPs would vote with opposition parties in support of a motion of no confidence against Zuma and that the Speaker of Parliament had agreed to move the motion, which was originally scheduled to be debated next week, forward to Thursday.
The ANC gave Zuma until midnight on Wednesday to respond to the recall letter, otherwise the debate on the motion of no confidence was set to commence at 2pm on Thursday as agreed to by all political parties.
A defiant Zuma earlier on Wednesday spoke out in an interview with the SABC, saying he had done nothing wrong and was never told the reasons for his recall.
He stated that he disagreed with the decision of the ANC to recall him, and warned that it would plunge the country into a “crisis”.
Zuma said he had made it clear to the party's national officials that he was not willing to leave the Union Buildings without being told what wrong he had committed. He said he felt victimised.