Enoch Godongwana, head of ANC economic committee. File photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - The African National Congress is in talks with its labor allies on imposing a minimum wage to help redistribute wealth in the economy.

While the ANC's programme to boost black participation in the economy has focused on ownership, a minimum wage is aimed at broadening income distribution, Enoch Godongwana, head of the party's economic committee, told reporters in Johannesburg on Monday.

The ANC is facing its toughest election, on May 7, since taking power in 1994 amid growing dissatisfaction with a 24 percent unemployment rate, and a lack of housing, water and other basic services in poor townships. Two decades after the end of apartheid white South Africans still earn on average six times more than their black counterparts.

Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant said the ANC is looking at minimum wage policies in Brazil and China. The ruling party's manifesto plans for a minimum wage in five year's time, she said.

President Jacob Zuma said in an interview on March 6 that the government must push for increased black ownership of the economy because the ANC's empowerment policy hasn't done enough to redistribute wealth.

Tito Mboweni, a member of the ANC's economic committee and a former governor of the central bank, told reporters today that the party wants “deep intervention” in the financial sector to improve access to capital for black businesses.

The ANC will discuss creating a state-owned bank, possibly through the South African Post Office's PostBank, Mboweni said.