The European Union-Africa Summit is going ahead as planned Wednesday in Brussels after African leaders refused to heed calls by a few African nations, including Zimbabwe, to boycott or push for a postponement over allegations that the EU was dictating the composition of African delegates.
At the weekend the EU said more than 40 Africa heads of state had accepted invitations to attend with 22 from the EU confirming their participation.
South Africa though announced that President Jacob Zuma will pass the EU-Africa Summit because of "other commitments".
Spokesman for South Africa's Department of International Relations, Clayson Monyela, said Pretoria will instead be represented by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
Pretoria would not say if Zuma's decision was taken in solidarity with President Robert Mugabe, whose government called for a boycott of the meeting after his wife, Grace, was refused a visa to attend. Mrs. Mugabe is on the EU’s travel ban.
The EU barred Eritrea, Sudan and the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic from attending the summit but invited Morocco, which pulled out of the AU following its invasion of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic. Egypt, which was suspended from the African Union after allegations of a military coup that toppled President Mohamed Morsi, was also invited, annoying the AU.
Sudan on Sunday accused the EU of trying to divide Africa after the western bloc refused to invite President Omar al-Bashir to the summit.
Bashir is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, where conflict raged for more than a decade before South Sudan was recognised as a separate state.
EU ambassador to Harare Aldo Dell’ Arricia said key preparations for the summit have already started.
Political analyst Blessing Vava, a former student leader, said Mr. Mugabe should not have boycotted the summit.