Four women dressed in black stood in front of Zuma as he took the podium, holding white sheets of paper with handwritten words reading “10 years on”, “khanga”, and “Remember Kwezi”.
As soon as Zuma left the podium and returned to his seat, the woman with the name “Kwezi” on her signboard turned to face him, but security cleared the way for the president to take his seat.
Thereafter Zuma’s security snatched the signs from the four women and hauled them to the back of the IEC centre.
Journalists followed but were stopped by security.
One of the women, identified as Wits activist and anti-rape campaigner Simamkele Dlakavu, tweeted that the group were alright after being removed by security.
IEC deputy commissioner Terry Tselane then stood up and apologised to the president and the nation for the unforeseen disturbance.
The Economic Freedom Fighters had reportedly also left the hall when Zuma started addressing the event.
The incident could be embarrassing for the ANC, Zuma and the IEC, as it was not expected and comes at a time when the party is facing a difficult period of reflection after its slipping electoral performance.