Dr Kenneth Koma, Michael Dingake, Philip Matante, Motsamai Mpho and many others have been unable to defeat the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has run Botswana ever since the British colonisers left.
The only time the opposition came close to victory was in 1994 when the Botswana National Front (BNF) managed to win an unprecedented 37% of the popular vote and 13 of the 40 parliamentary seats. But that is as close as the opposition has ever come to attaining power. Indeed, it has got easier and easier since then for the BDP thanks to internal infighting within the opposition, especially following the BNF's split in 1998.
The split resulted in the formation of the Botswana Congress Party (BCP) - and in the ruling party romping to landslide victories in 1999, 2004 and 2009.
And yet the governing party did not win a landslide in the popular vote - edging the 2009 poll by 53 percent. But the opposition's 47 percent was split between 5 parties, allowing the BDP to win a massive majority of the seats in parliament - a whopping 49 seats to 11.
And in 2010 Botswana saw the formation of yet another opposition party - the Botswana Movement for Democracy - following the defection of 7 ruling party members. This reduced the government's majority slightly but further fragmented the opposition field.
In a liberal democracy, there is nothing wrong with a proliferation of parties. But here is my worry, what is the point of having at least five political parties in a country of less than 2 million people and less than 800,000 potential voters? Particularly when all the opposition parties speak the same language and can only be differentiated by the faces on their posters.
Needless to say the opposition parties refute this and blame the ruling party's financial power for its continued electoral success. They argue that the BDP uses the incumbency factor to attract donors - and a recent gala dinner to raise funds for its 50th Anniversary clearly showed that the party has the support of the business community. During the event, the BDP raised a million Pula in the space of few hours. And it is an open secret that the massive diamond mining company De Beers donated substantial amounts of money to the party in the past and even funded consultancy studies to keep the party in power.
In a country where political parties are not funded by the state, the playing field is certainly not level.
So is there any chance of the opposition unseating the BDP? Well, several high profile figures within the party - including its former secretary general Gomolemo Motswaledi - left to create the BMD, citing the lack of inner democracy as the reason they formed the new party. They also accused President Ian Khama of being a 'dictator' and ruling with 'an iron fist'. Following its formation, the party immediately positioned itself as the answer to opposition prayers and its leaders vowed to paralyze the ruling party by recruiting senior officials and MPs. There was even talk of toppling president Khama before the 2014 general elections.
But the excitement was short-lived. While the party did manage to recruit a substantial number of BDP members, the momentum soon faded and some prominent BMD figures have since re-joined the ruling party, while others are apparently also planning to return - with their tails between their legs - to the party they abandoned barely two years ago.
With the BMD unable to take on the ruling party on its own, the four main opposition parties began unity talks back in April 2011 - with the aim of creating a single block that would be able to genuinely challenge the BDP. But after eight months of discussions, the unity talks collapsed in December 2011, after the parties failed to agree on the allocation of the constituencies. What followed was a rather nasty public spat involving the party leaders - as the BDP watched happily from the side-lines.
Efforts are underway to revive the talks but it is hard to see how the leaders will put aside their differences and their mistrust and ever form an effective united block.
But the opposition does have something on its side. Unlike in many parts of the region, three of the opposition leaders are relatively youthful - with Duma Boko of the BNF, Gomolemo Motswaledi of the BMD and Dumelang Saleshando of the BCP all in their early 40s. As Botswana approaches its 50th anniversary, they might be able to argue that it is time for the torch to be passed on to a new generation of leaders, who were born post-independence.
Furthermore, former President Festus Mogae said recently that the three leaders have what it takes to lead the country and stated that their patriotism is not in doubt. But their ability to ever defeat the BDP definitely is.