The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) says it knew as early as last week that Rwandan President Paul Kagame would no longer attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) Africa currently underway in Cape Town.
This comes after earlier media reports that Kagame and Peter Muthakira, the President of Malawi, would not be attending the investment conference. Some reports cited the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals as the reason for their withdrawal.
Speaking at the event on Wednesday, WEF head of communications Oliver Cann said: "We received notification on Saturday that the President of Rwanda, President Kagame, was not going to join us. And previously to that, towards the end of last week, [we received a notification] about Malawi and their President not being able to join us. We have not actually heard from the Democratic Republic of Congo, they may be able to join us, they may not. We assume not because we haven't heard from them.
"But we have had more heads of state than any other meeting we have had in Africa for quite some time and it surely ... we expect that from time to time people will have to drop out and prioritise other matters."
Cann said the notification was part and parcel of a "usual challenge of managing a hectic schedule of a hectic event".
DIRCO spokeperson Lunga Ngqengelele said the department received official correspondence from the Rwanda government that President Kagame would no longer travel to South Africa for the meeting.
He said, however, that the department had not received any formal communication from the DRC and Malawian governments.