Co ions with 100 keV energy with a fluence of 1 × 10(15) cm(-2) are implanted into ZnO(0001) single crystals at 300 °C under vacuum. The resulting Co-implanted ZnO single crystals and the subsequent 750 °C and 900 °C annealed samples are analysed with respect to their structural, optical, electronic, magnetic and ac electrical properties. Photoluminescence and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy results indicate the signatures of the Co(2+) state and its substitution at the tetrahedrally coordinated Zn-sites. X-ray diffraction and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy identify the presence of the ZnCo2O4 and Co3O4 phases in the 900 °C annealed sample. By comparing the resistance response of the identified phases towards different magnetic environments, the impedance spectroscopy results successfully identify two magnetic phases (ZnCo2O4 and Co3O4) and a paramagnetic (CoZn) phase for the 750 °C and 900 °C annealed samples, implying the extrinsic nature of room temperature ferromagnetism. The observed ferromagnetism in each sample is not of single origin, instead the mutual effects of the secondary phases embedded in the paramagnetic host matrix are in competition with each other.