Historically the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) delegated the administration of each ccTLD on an ad-hoc basis to a representative in each country. As a result, the administration of ccTLDs around the world was delegated to individuals, commercial organisations, non-profit organisations and academic institutions.

In terms of this delegation process, the administration of the .za ccTLD was initially delegated to Uninet. For several years Uninet successfully managed the .za domain, and structured .za as a second level domain. Uninet later expressed a desire to hand-over the management role to a more appropriate organisation.

Following successful negotiations between the South African government, Uninet and Namespace ZA (an entity earmarked to take over management of .za from Uninet), the establishment of the .za Domain Name Authority was included in the then Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill.

The Bill became an Act of Parliament known as the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act in 2002. In Chapter X it made provision for the establishment of ZADNA to assume the management and administration of the .za namespace.

In 2004, with the support of Uninet and the South African government, the administration of .za was re-delegated to ZADNA.