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.za back-end deal up for grabs

Kevin Murphy, August 17, 2021, Domain Registries

South African domain authority ZADNA has let it be known that it’s opening up the .za back-end contract to bids.

In a notice posted last week, the organization said that it’s told current operator ZACR that its contract will be terminated in six months, and that it will have to compete for a new one.

ZADNA had the option to extend the contract, which was signed in 2012, for another five years but has evidently chosen not to do so.

Still, ZACR has the twin benefits of incumbency and a home-field advantage — ZADNA says “the operation of the .ZA registry
infrastructure is geographically located in South Africa”.

Money might be a factor in play — the current wholesale registry fee for .co.za, .org.za and .net.za domains is ZAR 55 ($3.70), of which ZAR 15 ($1) is given to ZADNA. This mix is open to change under the rebid.

The organization has published a detailed request for information (pdf) explaining what it’s looking for, which will be followed by a formal request for proposals.

ZACR’s contract is due to end next April. ZADNA says it has no intention of bringing the registry in-house.

.za has 1.2 million domains and over 600 registrars.

South African registry to be merged with film censor, broadband regulator

Kevin Murphy, December 15, 2020, Domain Registries

South African ccTLD operator ZADNA is to be merged with two other government agencies, including the film censor, under a program announced by the nation’s government this week.

The non-profit state-owned company will merged with Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which regulates telecoms and broadband, and the Film and Publications Board, which censors and classifies movies, under plans announced today.

It comes as part of a broader government initiative to rationalize South Africa’s state-owned enterprises.

While it’s far from uncommon for a ccTLD to be managed by a state telecoms regulator, I’m not aware of any instances where a registry shares a roof with a movies regulator.

ZADNA is currently the official ccTLD manager for .za, though in practice it’s operated under contract by non-profit ZA Central Registry.

ZADNA hikes up the price of .za domains

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2020, Domain Registries

South African ccTLD registry ZADNA has upped the price of .za domains after a consultation.

Standard pricing will increase by ZAR 10 to ZAR 55 ($3.35), which works out at about a 22% increase, from April 1 next year.

There’s also a ZAR 10 increase on customers of its old, pre-EPP legacy system, where the base price is currently ZAR 130 ($7.58). That kicks in January 1.

ZADNA has been increasing the legacy pricing for years to encourage registrants onto its industry-standard EPP infrastructure.

The changes come despite receiving comments from the local internet community about affordability and the current economic conditions.

South Africa might raise, or lower, some wholesale domain fees

ZADNA, the South African ccTLD registry, has put out a call for comments on plans to adjust the wholesale price of .za domain names.

For the last nine years, it’s had a two-tier pricing system, with registrars on its EPP registry paying a lower fee than those still on its outdated bespoke technology.

Now, the registry is talking about possibly raising the price of the EPP, which has been at ZAR 45 ($2.62) for the last five years, and/or scrapping the legacy system, where prices currently stand at ZAR 130 ($7.58).

The fee for the legacy registry has been going up for years, to encourage registrars to migrate to the more modern, efficient EPP system. Today, all but 2.5% of .za domains are on the EPP system.

While ZADNA says it has not made up its mind whether to raise, lower or freeze its fees, its consultation document (pdf) seems to pitch pretty hard for increases.

The registry argues that an hike linked to the local Consumer Price Index, which it says has gone up 21% since 2015, may be called in order to track the cost of doing business.

In terms of lowering the price, ZADNA says it may help .za become more competitive, but at the expense of its ability to invest in infrastructure.

Interested parties have until June 30 to send in their comments. A decision will be made by the end of July, and any price changes will come into effect in October,

ALL .za domains have to link to government coronavirus web site

Kevin Murphy, March 30, 2020, Domain Policy

The South African government has decreed that every web site using a .za domain name must now carry a link to an official government coronavirus advice site.

The regulation (pdf), which largely focuses on other types of teleconmmunications services, came into effect last Thursday. It states:

Internet sites operating within .zaDNA top level domain name must have a landing page with a visible link to www.sacoronavirus.co.za

The rule applies to every site, not just those purveying health news.

ZADNA’s front page currently features this clickable graphic, slightly below the fold.

ZADNA site

ZADNA is the registry for .za, but also the city gTLDs .joburg and .capetown. The wording of the regulation suggests that these two gTLDs are also covered by the rule, but official government communications make no mention of either.

The rules also require fake coronavirus news to be blocked, but that’s on the ISPs to implement.

You may notice that the government’s domain is SAcoronavirus.co.za. This appears to be because coronavirus.co.za currently belongs to a domainer. That bare-bones site has a non-clickable link to the government site, and also an offer to sell the domain.

ZADNA boss canned for “misconduct”

The CEO of South African ccTLD manager ZADNA has been fired after a “misconduct” investigation lasting over half a year.

Vika Mpisane had been suspended from the role since early December, according to local reports, with Peter Madavhu taking his place.

Madavhu will continue as acting CEO until further notice, ZADNA told its members last week. A July 17 letter from chair Motlatjo Ralefatane, seen by DI, said:

Members would recall that Mr Vika Mpisane was on suspension pending the disciplinary hearing, which has been concluded.

Stemming from those disciplinary actions, Mr Vika Mpisane’s employment as the Chief Executive Officer of ZADNA has been terminated with effect from 16 July 2019.

The specifics of Mpisane’s alleged wrongdoings are not known. The fact that he had been suspended was not even public knowledge until MyBroadband scooped the story in May.

It has previously been reported that he was suspended for “for serious hybrid acts of misconduct including mismanagement of ZADNA funds”.

A disciplinary process that kicked off in January has reportedly been delayed multiple times, during which time Mpisane continued to draw a salary.

ZADNA CEO suspended for “hybrid misconduct”

The CEO of South Africa’s ccTLD registry has reportedly been suspended amid claims of “acts of misconduct”.

According to reports in the local tech press, Vika Mpisane was suspended in early December and has been subject to a delayed disciplinary process since January.

“Mr Vika Mpisane was suspended for serious hybrid acts of misconduct including mismanagement of ZADNA funds and others,” ZADNA chair Motlatjo Ralefatane told MyBroadband.

While details are rather thin on the ground, there are local rumors that some of the allegations relate to Mpisane’s salary and bonuses.

Ralefatane reportedly said that forensic accounting investigations are ongoing.

ZADNA, the ZA Domain Name Authority, is a non-profit organization and official ccTLD manager for .za. It answers to the South African government, but is not funded by it. It should not be confused with ZACR, the commercial entity that actually runs the .za registry on ZADNA’s behalf.

Mpisane has come under increased scrutiny this week as it turns out he is running unopposed for the Southern Africa seat on the board of AFRINIC, the Regional Internet Registry responsible for handing out IP addresses on the continent, apparently without ZADNA’s knowledge.

According to MyBroadband, Ralefatane believes Mpisane should not be representing that he has ZADNA’s support for his run.

His CV (pdf), posted to the AFRINIC web site in April, states that he is the current CEO of ZADNA, with no reference to his suspension.

Ralefatane reportedly added that she is not sure if AFRINIC or ICANN are aware of the allegations against him. They are now.

Mpisane is still listed on ZADNA’s web site as its CEO, also with no reference to the suspension.

His bio on the site reads, in its entirety (errors from the original): “The voice of reason and wisdom An outstanding leader with passion about the internet and what is has to offer. He walks the talk and talks the talk”.

Now South Africa looks to second-level domain sales

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2018, Domain Registries

South Africa looks to be the next country to start letting people register domains directly at the second level of its ccTLD.

Local registry authority ZADNA this week opened a policy consultation on allowing registrants access to direct, second-level .za names.

Currently, if you want a .za you have to register at the third level under the likes of .co.za or .net.za.

But ZADNA says second-level names will help it continue to compete in a market now populated by hundreds of new gTLDs.

The company said it has been “inundated” by calls for such a move.

The policy shift would see South Africa follow the the path beaten in recent years by UK, New Zealand, Kenya and (probably) Australia, which have all changed policy to allow second-level names.

But these things are never without controversy.

Domain investors are typically resistant to such moves, fearing dilution and the possible devaluing of their portfolios.

There are often also intellectual property concerns, and concerns about priority “grandfathering” rights when matching .co.za and .org.za names, for example, have different owners.

ZADNA is floating the possibility of auctions to resolve these kinds of conflicts.

The proposal (pdf) is open for comment until April 16.

ZACR to delete 12,000 .za domains next week

Kevin Murphy, August 24, 2017, Domain Registries

South African ccTLD registry ZACR is to delete more than 12,000 domains, many of them English dictionary words, ending in .org.za next week.

That’s more than a third of the current count of .org.za domains, which stands at about 33,000 today.

The list includes many English dictionary-word domains very possibly worth more than the standard registration fee, such as sex.org.za, accountant.org.za, comedy.org.za, vodka.org.za, casino.org.za and cash.org.za.

The domains will be deleted and then become available for first-come, first-served registration on September 1.

The current registrants have had fair warning. The company migrated to a new EPP-based registry back-end a few years ago and told its customers they had to migrate to an accredited registrar.

A year ago, it suspended 15,420 domains, cutting off their ability to resolve in the DNS, as way to bring the impending deletion to their owners attention, but since then only 2,394 suspended domains have become compliant with the new rules.

That means 12,677 .org.za domains face the chop Friday next week, unless their owners mount an eleventh-hour rescue operation.

ZACR has published a full list of the soon-to-be-deleted names here

The .org.za space is far less popular than commercial counterpart .co.za, which has over a million registered names.

ZACR hits a million .za names

Kevin Murphy, August 20, 2015, Domain Registries

South Africa’s .za ccTLD has crossed the one million domain mark, according to the registry.

ZA Central Registry is currently reporting on its web site that 1,000,666 names have been registered.

The millionth name was reportedly vulindlela-hpt.co.za, registered to a consulting firm and inexplicably redirecting to the typo vulindlela-htp.co.za.

CEO Lucky Masilela reportedly said: “ZACR has now joined a small group of registry operators worldwide who administer a six-figure domain space.”

So perhaps the numbers the company are reporting are not entirely reliable. [/snark]

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